Zardari stresses improved trade corridor to up intra-regional trade

ISLAMABAD (APP) - President Asif Ali Zardari Monday said Pakistans strategic location at the crossroads of Central Asian Republics was an asset and needs to be fully exploited for increased intra-regional trade through an improved trade corridor. Chairing a meeting for the National Trade Corridor Improvement Programme (NTCIP) here at the President House, the President said the project must aim at revamping the physical infrastructure, trade logistics and services to make business more competitive. The President advised the government to closely look at the development of inland water ways as a means for cost effective and pollution free bulk transportation particularly of goods in the country to relieve the burden on roads and railways. This is an area in which the public private partnership can play a pivotal role, he said. Development and use of inland water ways transportation will also make our trade more competitive in the region, the President observed. President Asif Ali Zardari also called for a separate briefing on inland water ways to give some shape to the proposal. The meeting was attended by federal ministers Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Babar Khan Ghouri, Ghulam Ahmad Biloor, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali, SAPM Kamal Majidullah, Secretary General Salman Faruqui and Secretaries of relevant ministries and entrepreneurs and representatives from the private sector. The meeting was informed that NTCIP will modernize and streamline trade and transport logistics, practices and customs services, improve port efficiency, reduce the costs for port users and enhance port management accountability. The corridor also aims at sustaining delivery of an efficient, safe and reliable National Highways system; promote and ensure safe and efficient civil aviation operations, enhance export of perishable commodities like fruits, vegetables and livestock by establishing an efficient and viable cool chain supply system. The President was informed that the National Trade Corridor Task Force (NTC Task Force) headed by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission with Federal Secretaries of Communications, Railways, Ports and Shipping, Defence, Petroleum and Industries, Chairman FBR as its members were working alongwith two task forces headed by the private sector experts on maritime industry, private sector development and inland waterways.

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