Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar has reiterated the importance of regional connectivity not only through road network but also through rail, aviation and ports for unleashing trade and tourism potential in the region. The minister expressed these remarks while participating in the 19th Ministerial Conference of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) virtually held on Monday. Bakhtyar highlighted the significance of regional cooperation such as CAREC for Pakistan in achieving shared goals of sustainable development and economic growth. Endorsing the framework, he emphasised, “Setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) targets along with active monitoring and annual reporting, we can effectively monitor the progress leading to implementation of CAREC’s Vision 2030.” The minister highlighted that tourism is part of the national development policy of the government of Pakistan and this sector contains immense untapped potential. He suggested the development of a regional tourism corridor, establishment of CAREC Business Council and increased involvement of the private sector in promoting tourism. He further highlighted that the incumbent government of Pakistan is focusing on facilitating the private sector for increased investment. He also suggested an enhanced visa facilitation regime in the form of “CAREC Sticker” for certain categories within the region. The minister highlighted that in order to expand trade among the CAREC countries, Transit Trade Agreements amongst member countries leading to the Regional Free Trade Agreement (RFTA) may be considered. He endorsed the long-term CAREC strategies to promote regional tourism and gender mainstreaming. Furthermore, CAREC enables the member countries to share thoughts and provide input for the long-term strategic frameworks to achieve envisaged regional cooperation goals. He also suggested the CAREC institute to conduct comprehensive studies identifying underlying gaps and including roadmaps on mutually beneficial topics. “Pakistan attaches high importance to CAREC as it is aligned with our national priorities of regional integration and cooperation,” the minister stated CAREC Programme is a partnership of 11 countries and 6 development partners working together to promote development through cooperation, leading to accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction. It is guided by the overarching vision of “good neighbours, good partners, and good prospects.” The ministers and senior representatives of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan also addressed the conference. Senior representatives of ADB, IMF, WB, AIIB, IDB, EBRD, EIB, OFID, USAID, UN Agencies, WTO and JICA also attended the conference.