ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood on Tuesday said that the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) to increase bilateral trade between Pakistan and Uzbekistan is expected to be finalized in the month of March 4th. The signing of the agreement will take place during the Uzbek President’s visit to Pakistan in 3-4th March, to facilitate bilateral trade and transit trade to boost trade ties between Pakistan, Uzbekistan and also enhance the connectivity with Afghanistan, the Adviser said. The Adviser Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said this while talking to the media along with the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan Sardor Umurzakov after the meeting with Pakistan’s top Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) from different sectors in Islamabad. The agenda of the meeting was how the Ministry of Commerce can increase the exports from the Textile, Food, Information Technology (IT), and Pharmaceuticals sectors and these sectors can establish working relationships with Uzbekistan and the other Central Asian States. On the occasion Razak Dawood said the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev will pay a visit to Pakistan on March 2-3 to discuss ways to improve bilateral economic and trade relations and also will sign various bilateral trade agreements. He said that a strong economic bloc could be established between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the five Central Asian countries, which would enable trade in goods to reach Russia and European countries. The Adviser said he would visit Uzbekistan on February 28 to review the progress made on the PTA in promoting bilateral trade and free trade between the two countries. He said that there is a possibility of mutual agreement for smooth transactions between the central banks of the two countries. In addition, the facilitation of transit trade between the two countries will be discussed. An agreement has already been reached in this regard and now transit trade trucks will be able to supply goods between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan, which will boost trade in the region, Razak said. Similarly, the promotion of transit trade and the free moments of trucks will usher in a new era of trade promotion in the region, he said. On the occasion, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the trade of Uzbekistan said that the flight from Lahore to Tashkent for air connectivity between Pakistan and Uzbekistan would start in the coming months of March. He said that the 350 million markets of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asian countries could play a significant role in world trade. He said the PTA would be finalized during the visit of the President of Uzbekistan in the month of March. This will increase the opportunities for business communities in both countries and will open up new trade opportunities, he said. The Deputy PM of Uzbekistan said that leadership on both sides agreed to the promotion of bilateral trade and regional economic integration. He said that after the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan in July 2021, new avenues of mutual relations and cooperation were opened between the two countries, which also opened the way for the development of trade and economic relations. He said that the traders and business community of both the countries have to play their due role in promoting trade in the region. In this regard, the Government of Uzbekistan will provide all possible facilities to Pakistani traders. He said that the government of Uzbekistan will take steps to make legal and financial and visa issues as easy as possible for the business community. The business community from the countries of the region would play a vital role in regional economic and trade integration, he said.