Afghan transit trade via Pakistan’s Gwadar port begins

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KARACHI, Pakistan 

Transit trade to Afghanistan through Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar seaport began on Sunday with a consignment of bulk cargo from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“The first transit consignment of bulk cargo through Gwadar to Afghanistan started today. Several consignments are lined up for coming days,” said Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan, on Twitter.

“We have crossed another milestone towards establishing our credentials as a transit city,” he added.

The ship carrying trade goods for Afghanistan anchored at the port, which were transported to the war-stricken country after customs clearance, local broadcaster Geo News reported.

With its 600-kilometer coastline, Gwadar is a key deep seaport currently operated by China, which seeks to gain direct access to the Indian Ocean via Gwadar in line with its $64 billion Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega project.

The economic corridor is hoped to provide China cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East and also earn Pakistan billions of dollars to provide transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.

On July 13, Islamabad reopened a key border crossing to resume exports from Afghanistan to India under the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).

The 2010 bilateral trade agreement provides Afghan traders access to the eastern Wagah border with India, where Afghan goods are offloaded onto Indian trucks.

The agreement, however, does not permit Indian goods to be loaded onto trucks for transit back to Afghanistan.

Last month, Pakistan also reopened three key trade routes – the southwestern Chaman, northwestern Torkham, and Ghulam Khan border crossings – for transit trade and exports to Afghanistan.

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