Trade with Central Asia can jump manifold provided the right connectivity is put in place, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the region.

“Trade with the five Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan can multiply manifold from the small base of $1.4 billion now,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.

The major areas of opportunity include oil and gas, minerals and metals, agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, textiles and chemicals. Kazakhstan is a significant oil producer while the other countries are estimated to have large reserves of natural gas. Priority must be given to a pipeline connecting India to Central Asia as in the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan) pipeline project, the CII said.

The services sectors are an untapped potential between the two sides, including sectors such as IT, education and skill development, and tourism, the industry chamber said in a statement.

India and the Eurasian Economic Union should engage in Free Trade Agreement negotiations on the fast track, apart from resolving outstanding trade and commercial issues such as visas, it added.

The CII also pointed out the need to develop more transport corridors that can connect India to the region and provide commercial and shipping access to India’s warm water ports for these land-locked nations.

Also, India can also assist in value addition to Kazakhstan’s uranium output, it added.