Ambassador of Tajikistan Ismatullo Nasredin has said that direct air links and establishment of banking channels between the two countries can be instrumental to boost mutual trade and economic ties between the two countries. A direct flight will be started from Islamabad to Dushanbe will be started soon. He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI President Kashif Anwar presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry also spoke on the occasion. The Ambassador emphasized the importance of boosting bilateral trade ties, and highlighted the recent efforts to boost trade activities between the two countries and said that launching air services for commercial purposes is the need of the day as the two countries share common values. He said that there are some political, transportation and communication-related challenges, but these can be tackled by joint working, he said, adding that direct flights between Tajikistan and Pakistan can save travelling time and help improve mutual trade. He said that Pakistani businessmen are being facilitated for visa and not a single request is being rejected. He invited the LCCI President to arrange a trade delegation for Tajikistan to explore trade and investment opportunities. He said that the textile, pharmaceutical, fruits & vegetables, tourism and education sectors have the immense potential for joint ventures. He said that Tajikistan wants to utilize Pakistani ports as these would cost three times less than the other countries. He agreed with the LCCI President Kashif Anwar that the work should be done on the 88 documents signed between the two countries. He said that the negotiations between Pakistani banks and Tajikistan are well on the way for the establishment of proper banking channel. He said that both the countries should establish direct trade links and trade via third country is taking too much time. The Ambassador said that Pakistan has always extended support to Tajikistan on all issues. LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that 80 percent documents, out of 88 signed agreements, are economy related but no work has been done yet. He informed the Tajik Ambassador that all the documents of LCCI are QR coded. He said that the first visit of a delegation should be sight-seen as no business can be started at first visit. Kashif Anwar said that Pakistan and Tajikistan enjoys strong cultural, religious and historical links. Both brotherly countries share common membership in many international bodies and organizations such as Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Economic Cooperation Organization and Shanghai Cooperation Organization etc. He said that LCCI accords great importance to Tajikistan as an important economy in Central Asia, in line with the Government of Pakistan’s “Vision Central Asia” Policy which is based on the five pillars of bilateral cooperation i.e. political, trade & investment, energy & connectivity, security & defence and people-to-people contacts. Kashif Anwar was of the view that the recent visit of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan H.E. Emomali Rahmon to Pakistan in December 2022 has laid a strong foundation for further strengthening of diplomatic and trade ties. He hoped that as agreed during the visit, the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries will be finalized soon. “We are glad that both countries have reaffirmed early finalization of the flagship power project CASA-1000 (Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project), which would enable Tajikistan to sell clean hydropower-produced surplus electricity to Pakistan through a shared electricity transmission system”, the LCCI president said and added that this would open new avenues for future energy corridors, leading to prosperity for the whole region Kashif Anwar said that when we have a look on trade data, we find that despite having immense potential of trade, the bilateral trade volume remained limited to around 13 million dollars in 2021-22 as compared to 9.5 million dollars in 2020-21, according to the statistics of State Bank of Pakistan. He said that during 2021-22, our exports to Tajikistan were 3.3 million dollars whereas our imports were 10 million dollars. During the first six months of current fiscal year, our exports to Tajikistan were around 2.6 million dollars while the imports were around 3 million dollars. He said that the total imports of Tajikistan are 4.2 billion dollars in which the share of exports from Pakistan is negligible. The total exports of Tajikistan are around 1.8 Billion Dollars and comprise mainly of precious metals, ores, cotton, aluminum, mineral fuels and oils. Tajikistan can hence be a good supplying market for the raw materials in Pakistan. In this connection, your office can play a role in linking the Tajik exporters with our importers. He said that Pakistan’s exports to Tajikistan mainly consist of dairy products and pharmaceuticals etc. while the imports are primarily of cotton. The potential areas where Pakistan and Tajikistan can enhance trade and economic ties are renewable energy, value added textiles, footwear, Halal meat, pharmaceutical products, furniture, rice, fruits & vegetables etc. Tourism is another potential sector where there is an immense scope for Joint Ventures. The LCCI President said that by developing direct air, rail and road connectivity, the economic relation between the two countries can be taken to new heights. There is a great opportunity for Tajikistan to avail the facility of Pakistani seaports and CPEC. It is worth mentioning that Pakistani seaports offer the most efficient and shortest economic route for Central Asian countries to the markets in Middle East and beyond. LCCI Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry said that the important steps which can prove to be instrumental in enhancing trade are exchange of Export Oriented Trade Delegations, Single Country Exhibitions, establishing banking channels for monetary transactions between businesses and close liaison between trade bodies of both countries. Excellency, we will be pleased to play our part in reaching out to Tajik business community through your good office.