By: Monitoring Desk
KABUL: The Pakistani government has decided to tweak the regulatory framework related to transit trade to expand its scope across the land-locked central Asian states, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
A Pakistani official confirmed that the government decided to streamline regulatory framework for ensuring low cost and efficient transit trade vis-à-vis central Asian states. The official said the directorate general of transit trade proposed certain amendments in the regulatory framework as a seamless transit trade would magnify Pakistan’s role in the immediate region and the entire world. “The government basically intends to broaden the scope of transit trade to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan through Torkham, Chaman and Ghulam Khan via Afghanistan,” the official said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to comment on the issue, according to The News Pakistan.
Currently, transit through Pakistan is the only viable option for Afghanistan, and both countries signed Afghan-Pakistan transit trade agreement for this purpose. Official data showed that flow of cargoes rose 44 percent to 93,732 containers in the last fiscal year of 2018/19 from 60,516 containers in the preceding year under Afghan transit trade. The assessed import value of the transit cargoes also grew a robust 55 percent to $5.715 billion in FY2019 from $3.97 billion a year earlier. Pakistan and Afghanistan have reached an understanding on the broad parameters of Afghan exports to Pakistan and India and the use of Afghan territory for Pakistan’s exports to the central Asian states.
Officials said Pakistan stands on the crossroads of becoming a major trade corridor for tapping the Central Asian markets by virtue of its strategic location with three efficient seaports.
The proposed amendments in the framework would regulate Pakistan’s cargoes imported from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan’s imports through Karachi Ports, Port Qasim and Gwadar Port in transit through Pakistan and Afghanistan; and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan’s exports in transit through Afghanistan and Pakistan through Karachi Ports, Port Qasim and Gwadar Port.
Officials said Pakistan, as an important logistics hub for transit trade, would undoubtedly bring prosperity to South Asia along the trade routes and beyond, as nothing opens up an area to economic development better than good transportation networks with good transit rules and an ability to transport goods and people effectively.
“By virtue of its geographical position, the importance of Pakistan cannot be undermined,” the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) said on its website. “Pakistan’s geostrategic advantage lies in the fact that it shares borders with Iran, Afghanistan, China and India while Arabian Sea connects it to the rest of the world.”
The FBR said the advantage has not only evoked much interest among the major powers of the globe but also promoted multi-lateral trade with neighboring countries. “Pakistan, therefore, serves as an essential hub operating as a focal point of logistics to the neighboring states, especially land-locked Afghanistan.”