LAHORE: Kyrgyzstan can act as a bridge for Pakistan to the Central Asian markets as Pakistani traders can easily export 6,000 goods with several concessions, said Kyrgyzstan Ambassador to Pakistan Erik Beishemhiev. Addressing businessmen at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), he said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a golden opportunity to enhance trade volume of the connecting countries manifold. “Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan can benefit from each other by promoting bilateral relations in academic, trade and cultural areas.” He said that the Kyrgyz economy was undergoing some major structural and development changes. The mining sector, electrical goods production, IT and agriculture were making progress in Kyrgyzstan, he added. The ambassador also shared that the government of Kyrgyzstan was interested in signing memorandums of understanding with Pakistan for the promotion of people-to-people contact and exchange of information regarding trade. Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan enjoyed friendly and cordial relations but these did not reflect in trade between the two countries. He pointed out that mainly pharmaceutical products were exported from Pakistan whereas some dried vegetables and trailers were imported from Kyrgyzstan. “Main reasons for such a low level of two-way trade, which was still below $2 million, are lack of knowledge of each other’s market and lack of regular banking channels,” Sheikh added. The LCCI president said that the Lahore Chamber had been talking about exploiting the untapped potential of trade with the Central Asian Republics and suggested organising single-country exhibitions on a reciprocal basis. The Economic Zones Development and Management Company is in contact with the state-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation for the early finalisation of an agreement to develop the Rashkai Special Economic Zone, said officials on Thursday. The officials told a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan here that the CRBC team was likely to visit Islamabad later this month to finalise the revised development agreement for the Rashkai Special Economic Zone. The Rashkai SEZ was one of the nine economic zones being set up across the country under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Located in Nowshera district, the proposed industrial zone will be spread over 778 acres of land and will be developed in three phases over six years. A statement issued here quoted the chief minister as saying speedy arrangements should be made for the approval of the development agreement from the relevant board so that formal inauguration of development work on the project could be initiated. “All arrangements should be completed within the stipulated timelines in order to ensure formal groundbreaking of the Rashakai SEZ making it clear that no extension in the timeline would be allowed for this purpose. “All stakeholders should fulfil their responsibilities in time so that the project can be executed at a rapid pace in line with the priorities of the provincial government,” he said. The chief minister said a high-level meeting of the relevant authorities would be convened next week to ensure the timely provision of electricity and gas to industrialists in the SEZ. The meeting was briefed about the joint venture, framework of concession and development agreements for the Rashakai SEZ, the expected economic impact of the project and the overall progress made so far on the project. The officials said the development work of SEZ would be completed in a phased manner, while the joint venture had been set up under the public-private partnership for the implementation of the project. They said work on the roads had already been initiated to ensure an easy access to the economic zone, while PC-I had been approved by the Departmental Development Working Party to provide electricity to the industrialists at an estimated cost of Rs1.8 billion. The officials said PC-I had been presented to the SNGPL for the supply of gas, however timely cooperation of the concerned federal departments is essential to provide the facilities of electricity and gas without any delay. The chief minister said a high-level meeting should be called with the representatives of all relevant departments attending it to address pending issues, while supply of power and gas should be ensured within the specified timeline in accordance with the suggested timelines. He said the speedy development of Rashakai SEZ was the top most priority of the government and for the purpose, all stakeholders should fulfil their responsibilities in a timely manner. The chief minister directed the EZDMC to undertake pragmatic steps for the purpose and said there would be no space for any extension of timelines in that respect. Senior PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra, adviser to the chief minister on energy and power Himayatullah Khan, special assistant on industries Abdul Karim, principal secretary to the chief minister Shahab Ali Shah, acting chief executive officer of the EZDMC and administrative secretaries of the relevant departments attended the meeting.