Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Friday said that Pakistan and Kazakhstan should develop a plan of action to raise present trade volume through enhanced business activities and removal of trade barriers. “Holding frequent Joint Business Council meetings and trade exhibitions to introduce products in each other’s markets can play a pivotal role”, the minister said while addressing the 11th session of Pakistan-Kazakhstan Inter Governmental Joint Session (IJC) here. The signing of the Quadripartite Memorandum between two sides would further strengthen the trade prospects between the two sides, he said. “We are also looking forward to the early finalization and signing of the Transit Trade Agreement between the two sides, which will further strengthen bilateral trade between the two sides” he said. Ayaz said that connectivity between Pakistan and Kazakhstan through road, rail and air was of vital importance, adding that further development of the infrastructures would help enhance not only trade and investment, but also tourism. Signing of the Air Services Agreement between civil aviation authorities of both the countries would help improve air connectivity between the two countries. “The road and air connectivity will lead to increased trade, economic prosperity and stability in the region. Kazakhstan is rich in natural resources with abundance of oil, natural gas and precious metals including gold reserves”, he added. He said that Kazakhstan was the most vibrant nation and largest economy of Central Asia. “Pakistan is also blessed with fossil fuel reserves and precious metal reserves, therefore both countries may embark upon joint ventures to make the most of these resources. The minister further said that the Joint Working Group in the Energy Sector could play a significant role in enhancing cooperation in the sector. “Trade between both the countries has been showing a satisfactory increase over the years which is a good omen. In 2021-22 total trade volume was USD 219 Million with exports from Pakistan amounted to USD 163 million, and import from Kazakhstan amounted to USD 56 million”, he said. “However, there is lot of potential that still needs to be explored. This forum has always been monumental in strengthening the ties between the two countries and has resulted in enhanced bilateral relations, especially in terms of trade, investment, cultural exchange and tourism”, Ayaz said. He said the cordial relations between Pakistan and Kazakhstan dated back to the independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the 1990s and Pakistan was amongst the first few countries to recognize Kazakhstan as a sovereign and independent state. He said the two countries enjoyed fraternal and cordial relations and had formalized bilateral economic relations by establishing Joint Commission (JC) in the year 1993. “We hope that this session will provide a solid base to consolidate our relations and move forward for capitalizing on the enormous opportunities available to both countries”, he said. “Signing of Quadripartite Memorandum of cooperation between the ‘KAZAKH INVEST’, the ‘QazTrade’, Trade Policy Development Center JSC, and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the Board of Investment (BOI) of Pakistan will further enhance the opportunities for bilateral investments and cooperation”, he said. He said promotion of tourism and culture was also high on the agenda of the government, adding that Pakistan with diverse cultures and natural beauty was an ideal destination for tourists. “From snow capped peaks and frozen lakes to serene valleys and beautiful shores, the country is full of breathtaking scenery. Pakistan is home to five of the fourteen highest peaks, towering over 8,000 meters”, he said. “We would welcome more tourists from Kazakhstan and also look forward to finalizing the MoU in the field of tourism, which will enhance tourism and cultural interaction between the two countries” he said. He said that agriculture played a key role in Pakistan’s economy as almost 40% of the country’s labor force was directly employed in this sector, and “it contributes around 20 percent to our GDP.” “Agriculture is a significant sector in the economy of both the countries, especially their rural economy”, he said. “It is, therefore, important that we look for mutual cooperation in the areas of agricultural research, value addition and food processing and facilitate establishment of joint ventures through business to business interactions. “Pakistan is looking forward to early finalization of MoU on collaboration between Cotton Research Institute of Multan, Pakistan and Kazakh Research Institute of Cotton, which will further enhance cooperation in the agricultural sector”, he added.