ISLAMABAD: In an effort to fully exploit the geostrategic position of Pakistan and make it a potential hub of transit trade, the National Logistics Cell (NLC) has chalked out a comprehensive plan for setting up new border terminals at key entry and exit points with neighbouring countries.
Apart from this, the NLC - a state-owned company - will upgrade existing terminals at Chaman, Torkham and Wagah.
In addition to facilitating the smooth flow of trade at economical costs, the NLC’s border terminals are playing an important role in regulating cross-border movement of cargo and passenger traffic, according to a statement issued by the NLC.
The terminals have become an important component of the overall border management system.
Modern border posts for monitoring the flow of goods are inevitable in order to curb smuggling and illegal trade that deals a heavy blow to domestic traders. There had been excessive complaints in the past that goods meant for Afghanistan under the transit trade arrangement find their way back into Pakistan at cheaper prices.
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According to statistics compiled by the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, goods trade between Islamabad and Kabul dropped $1 billion year-on-year to $1.5 billion in 2016.
On the other hand, overall trade with India has been valued at around $2.5 billion per annum, which was mostly in favour of Delhi. In its statement, the NLC revealed that construction work was already under way on terminals at Kharlachi in Kurram Agency and Ghulam Khan Khel in the North Waziristan Agency. These will be commissioned by the middle of current month and provide requisite facilities for the Customs, immigration, Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and other government departments.
Latest facilities are being developed at the terminals including import and export yards, weighing stations, baggage scanners, forklifts, fire engines, etc.
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According to the NLC, traders will be facilitated through one-window operations like simplified Customs procedures, immigration and smooth administrative processes.
In the second phase, other amenities like banking, telephone and internet services will also be provided at these terminals.
A border terminal has been planned at Angoor Adda in South Waziristan and construction work on it will commence after the start of Kharlachi and Ghulam Khan Khel border terminals.
NLC emphasised that it had extensive operational and management experience of running the border terminals at key entry and exit points including Wagah, Torkham/Jamrud and Chaman. These terminals have played a crucial role in regulating and boosting trade with neighbouring countries.
Border terminals at Ghulam Khan Khel, Kharlachi and Angoor Adda have their own significance as these will drastically cut distance from DI Khan to Kabul through the existing Indus Highway and planned western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The shorter distance will reduce transportation cost, benefiting trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian States.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2018.
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