ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar participated in the 19th Ministerial Conference of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) virtually held on Monday.
The CAREC Program 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 Neighbors, Good Partners, and Good Prospects.”
The ministers & senior representatives of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan also addressed the Conference.
Senior representatives of Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UN Agencies, World Trade Organization (WTO) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) also attended the Conference.
In his remarks at the Conference, the minister highlighted the significance of regional cooperation such as CAREC for Pakistan in achieving shared goals of sustainable development and economic growth.
Khusro Bakhtiar reiterated the importance of regional connectivity not only through road networks but also rail, aviation, and ports for unleashing trade and tourism potential in the region.
While endorsing the Framework, he emphasized that by setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) targets along with active monitoring & annual reporting, we can effectively monitor the progress leading to the 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.
Khusro Bakhtiar suggested the development of a regional tourism corridor, the establishment of CAREC Business Council, and increased involvement of the private sector in promoting tourism.
The federal minister for economic affairs further highlighted that the incumbent government is focusing on facilitating the private sector for increased investment. He also suggested an enhanced visa facilitation regime in the form of a “CAREC Sticker” for certain categories within the region.
The minister highlighted that in order to expand trade between the CAREC Countries; Transit Trade Agreements amongst member countries leading to the Regional Free Trade Agreement (RFTA) may be considered.
Bakhtiar 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.
The minister also suggested the CAREC institute to conduct comprehensive studies identifying underlying gaps and including roadmaps on mutually beneficial topics.
The minister for economic affairs said that Pakistan attaches high importance to CAREC as it is aligned with our national priorities of regional integration and cooperation.