By Bahattin Gonultas and Yusuf Hatip
Relations between Pakistan and Turkey are “excellent” and will deepen with a coming free-trade agreement (FTA) a senior Pakistani official said on Tuesday.
A long-pending FTA between the two nations is in the final stages, Sartaj Aziz told Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of a foreign ministers’ meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in Islamabad.
Trade volume between the two countries stood at around $610 million in 2016, with exports from Turkey recorded at $346 million and imports from Pakistan at $263 million, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.
Commenting on claims ECO cooperation had not reached optimal levels, Aziz said a lack of resources to build infrastructure was being discussed.
According to Aziz, China's One Belt, One Road initiative will help the organization achieve its objectives.
The ECO was founded by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan in 1985. In 1992, the organization expanded to include seven new members, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Speaking at the ECO foreign ministers’ meeting earlier on Tuesday, Aziz said a lack of regional connectivity was a major impediment to economic cooperation.
He said joint efforts were needed to transform the ECO into a formidable economic bloc through full exploitation of its resources.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to arrive to Islamabad late on Tuesday to attend the 13th summit of the 10 ECO countries on Wednesday.
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