ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Country Director, Rune Stroem on Wednesday said that Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline deal is close to completion and gas sale purchase price agreement is likely to be concluded in near future.

Pakistan’s membership on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) group could help import oil through pipeline, gas and power from Central Asian Republics (CARs) as well as can become hub of regional trade by providing 11 member countries access to the Gwadar and Karachi port.

He was talking to media along with a delegation of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program comprising Shigeko Hattori and Ronald Antonio Q Butiong, delegation that is currently visiting Pakistan.

ADB country director informed that TAPI negotiating parties have made satisfactory progress on TAPI gas pipeline deal and gas price issue is under negotiation and is at advance stage,” he said adding that all parties on TAPI gas pipeline deal had reached to a point of execution.

Pakistan is a fresh entrant to the CAREC programme and other members of the CAREC are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

“CAREC secretariat is currently reviewing its development strategy to include Pakistan and Turkmenistan development projects in CAREC strategy 2020,” he said adding that Pakistan will also have access to seaports as well as Pakistani Gwader Port and Karachi port will have enough trade activities.

“We seek huge potential on regional activities in oil, gas and electricity in CAREC regional block,” he said adding that TAPI project is a commercial deal and tremendous progress has been made on this project.

Rune said that CAREC Program was a partnership of 10 countries and 6 multilateral institutions were facilitating regional cooperation in the priority areas of transport, trade facilitation, trade policy and energy.

The Program is a proactive facilitator of practical, result-oriented regional projects and policy initiatives that were critical to trade expansion and sustainable development.

CARAEC’s six multilateral partners are the ADB, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank. Shigeko said that ADB is aware of the fact that CARAEC regional cooperation is not possible without peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan is major factor to peace in the region.

Stroem said, since 2011, the CAREC program had mobilised more than $15 billion worth of investments in the transport, trade, and energy sectors.

Responding to question of US interests in the region, Stroem said “US is a major partner in the program and is involved through IMF, IDB and WB.” He agreed to the concern that there were lots of disputes in the region among member countries but the donors were bringing all the parties on table to resolve issues.

He was of the view that they are promoting inter-regional (CAREC) trade activities that would be followed by intra-regional connectivity in the next few years. ADB officials said the CAREC program is improving six regional transport corridors that will link CAREC countries to each other and to other Eurasian sub-regions, creating opportunities for more efficient trade.

They mentioned Europe to East Asia corridor that links Europe to the China and East Asia. “Touching Torkham border of Pakistan, the route traverses from the border with the Russian Federation to the China via Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic,” they added.

The ADB report named ‘Strategy for Regional Cooperation in the Energy Sector of CAREC Countries’ says that the domestic investment made in the CAREC countries will focus on energy efficiency and clean energy. Energy efficiency investments will encompass efficiency improvements in energy production, transportation, distribution and energy use and will cover the areas such as; loss reduction, rehabilitation of existing assets and least-cost system expansion and operation while the cross-border investment will focus on production of ecologically clean energy and energy trade and will be pursued with mutual agreement among all relevant parties in cross-border energy transmission, facilitation of access to third country energy markets and production for exports.

The report says that there may be investments, trade, security, and geo-political risks to Another ADB report ‘Trade Policy Strategic Action Plan’ says that the average tariffs in CAREC countries are generally below 10 percent, lower than the overall average of about 11 percent for developing countries in 2005.

The Central Asian countries have been bestowed with strong power transmission networks in the regions constituting about 1600 km of 500 KV and 1400 km of 220 KV lines.