A parliamentary delegation from Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) recently visited Tashkurgan town in Xinjiang, a northwest autonomous territory in China, to discuss matters of mutual interest and explore ways to strengthen trade ties between the two regions.
Led by GB Assembly Speaker Syed Amjad Ali Zaidi, the delegation requested Chinese authorities to relax export regulations to facilitate cross-border trade through Khunjerab Pass. The delegation also urged Chinese authorities to include five items from GB in the free trade agreement.
In a meeting with Chinese officials, the two sides agreed to launch weekly flight operations between Tashkurgan, Kashgar, and Gilgit-Baltistan to boost bilateral trade and tourism. Both sides also agreed to establish a joint small business bank to facilitate small traders and businesses. Additionally, a trade zone will be set up in GB to promote border trade.
The Tashkurgan authorities also agreed to lift travel restrictions within the Xinjiang region for border pass holders from Gilgit-Baltistan. Furthermore, the Chinese side assured that GB would equally benefit from the upcoming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
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The two sides also discussed other issues, including the establishment of fruit and minerals processing zones and scientific help from Chinese experts in agriculture, food, and climate change. The possibility of setting up a research institute in GB or cooperating with local universities in the region was also discussed.
The visit is a significant step towards strengthening trade ties between the two regions and will pave the way for future cooperation in various sectors. With the new measures and initiatives agreed upon, both Gilgit-Baltistan and Xinjiang are expected to benefit from increased trade and tourism opportunities.