Govt has changed traditional stance for bolstering trade with neighbours

The News, Pakistan, May 23, 2014

Federal Minister for commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan has said that PML-N government changed the traditional stance with neighbours encouraging and initiating trade relations with the regional countries.

The minister was speaking at the Regional Conference on ‘Trans-boundary cooperation in the energy sector’ organised by Sustainable Development Institute in collaboration with CUTS International and FES India here Thursday.

Khurram Dastagir Khan said that the government recognised connectivity in the form of banking, infrastructure, cell phone and energy for trade and investment. He said that in trade and investment, the connectivity is very important in regional integration where regional cooperation provides opportunities. He said that the country will hopefully balance the demand and supply in 2 to 3 years. He said that the second phase is renovation of energy sector, which includes import o 1000 MW electricity from Tajikistan to Pakistan, which required peace in Fata and Afghanistan.

The minister said conferences like this help in opinion making in favour of greater Indo-Pak trade relations.

Dr. Najeeb Azizi, professor in public policy and economics, Kabul University, Afghanistan, said that issues like Climate Change shifted the interest from regional to beyond regional approach. He said that multilateralism is a precondition for talking issues involving trans-boundary issues.

Asian Development Bank Country Director Wener Leipach said that location of power station and grid system is devised keeping in view demography of a country. He said that starting from lower level indicates that you want to move ahead to mega projects. He said that the private sector is ready to invest and Pakistan should try to work in tackling security aspect.

Farkhod Aminjonov, Deputy Director for Chinese and Central Asian Studies in Kazakhstan, said that South Asia looks at Central Asia as energy producer and trade partner. He said that Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are rich in generating electricity and transmitting it to other countries in the summer season while gas can be supplied for winter season. He said that TAPI project may not materialise very soon due to security situation in Afghanistan.

Adil Khattak, Chief, Attock Oil Refineries, said that energy is as a big issue as health and sanitation which is affecting Pakistan and Afghanistan the most.

Bipul Chatterji from CUTS-India said that energy consumption per capita is very low in South Asia. He stressed the need of exploiting non-conventional sources of energy like wind, biogas and solar energy.

Ansar Mehmood Janjua from SDPI talking to ‘The News’ said that Nawaz Sharif had a better comfort level with BJP in the past and hoped that after the ascendance of Narendra Modi to premiership, the bilateral relations between Pakistan and India will move towards peace, greater trade and relaxation of visa regime. He said that trans-boundary cooperation in energy sector needs to be enhanced but stressed that being a smaller market, the interests of businesspersons in Pakistan should be given due attention.

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