India and Tajikistan on Monday stressed upon increasing bilateral trade and commerce, and said increasing connectivity was vital for the purpose.
A joint statement issued after a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon said the two leaders discussed "ways and means to explore possibilities of developing an alternate surface route in cooperation with other countries of the region".
It was decided that the 8th session of the India-Tajikistan Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation will meet in Dushanbe this year and draw up a concise strategy to deepen trade and investment relations and identify specific steps to facilitate exchanges between the business communities.
"Despite being close neighbouring countries, the leaders noted that trade and economic linkages between India and Tajikistan are not in keeping with their potential," the joint statement said.
The two leaders highlighted the importance of trade and investments in developing a balanced and sustainable bilateral relationship and committed to work together to overcome structural and functional issues hampering economic relations.
Connectivity came up as a major factor in the trade being limited.
Tajikistan reiterated its support to the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which is a ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road.
The two leaders also recognised that the proposed Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement (PATTTTA) would facilitate trade between Tajikistan and the countries of the South Asian region.
They decided that further consultation would be held on the inclusion of India to this arrangement.
Importance of enhanced air connectivity was also stressed upon, to facilitate trade and economic linkages as well as tourism and greater people-to-people interaction.
Modi and Rahmon called upon the relevant authorities in both countries to find constructive ways and means to increase the frequency of flights on the Delhi-Dushanbe sector.