Islamabad: Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has underlined the need for developing more economical air and rail routes to push trade and cooperation with Kyrgyzstan as the Central Asian state invites Pakistan business community to invest in its agriculture, mining, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors.

Asif said this in a meeting with Kyrgyzstan Parliament Speaker Chynybai A Tursunbekov, who was heading a parliamentary delegation.

Emphasising the importance of bilateral relationship, the minister pointed out that projects like Central Asia-South Asia (Casa) 1,000 power supply scheme, would prove to be a major milestone in establishing socio-economic connectivity between the two countries.

“Electricity export from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Pakistan under Casa 1,000 will be increased in future,” he said as both the sides expressed satisfaction over the project, which would provide Pakistan with 1,300 megawatts of electricity.

Asif insisted that both the countries would benefit if they established a strategic link through warm waters and with the Euro-Asian market. While mentioning that it was the first visit of a formal parliamentary delegation of Kyrgyzstan in the past 25 years, the speaker said: “We will seek help from Pakistan in managing the GSP Plus status, awarded (by the European Union) to Kyrgyzstan.”

Pakistan has already agreed to share its experience and provide technical assistance for Kyrgyzstan that is keen to make inroads into the EU market under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus – a mechanism under which duties are eliminated or drastically reduced.

In November 2015, the EU approved a proposal to grant preferential trade access to Kyrgyzstan under the GSP Plus. Following a review by the European Council and the European Parliament, the EU regulation for granting the GSP Plus status to Kyrgyzstan was published in the official bulletin of January 26, 2016. It came into force the very next day.

According to EU statistics, Pakistan’s exports amounted to 6 billion euros in 2015, which was 37% more than the imports from the trade bloc. Pakistan’s exports to the European market have consistently increased since 2005.

After the GSP Plus status, which was granted to Pakistan in January 2014, the trade flow to the European market grew rapidly by 21.5% in 2014 and 33.7% in 2015 compared to 2013.

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