Agar urges WB team to conduct Indo-Pak cross-border trade assessment study

Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s President Muhammad Haroon Agar has urged the World Bank Group on Trade and Transport Facilitation to execute Indo-Pak cross-border trade assessment study from Khokrapar-Monabao Border to start trade on the pattern of Wagha-Attari.

Exchanging views with the delegation of World Bank Group on Trade and Transport Facilitation headed by its Task Leader Ms Diep Nguyen-van Houtte, he appreciated the initiative of WB’s study on improvement of Wagha Border and emphasised that for cross-border trade, Pakistani borders lack sufficient infrastructure and modern integrated check-posts and indispensable services. Customs and border procedures are not ideally oriented for trade facilitation. Single window facility as per international trade practices is essential.

He further suggested that Pakistan Railways Network is almost collapsed and Cross-Border Trade is totally dependent on Road Transport which is very costly due to high consumption of costly fuel so a study to revive Pakistan Railways for trade with Afghanistan and India is also need of time.

Haroon Agar said that to enhance trade with India, KCCI has formed Bombay-Karachi Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry which is recognised by both Indo-Pak governments. KCCI had provided its proposals for Trade Liberalisation, Negative List, 3 agreements and opening of Khokrapar-Monabao Border to facilitate the businessmen of Sindh & Balochistan. He asserted upon the need to establish Purpose-Built Warehouses and Cool-Chains at the Indo-Pak Borders at Wagha and Khokrapar.

He said that currently only 137 importable items are allowed from India through land-route of Wagha. More or all items should be allowed to be imported and exported from India from land-route. Presently the trade via road at Wagha-Attari Border is allowed in open trucks and container services should be introduced to save time of loading and unloading. There is a dire need to establish integrated check-posts equipped with modern facilities, lab testing, electronic data exchange facilities, scanners at the borders, he told.

President KCCI voiced that for Indo-Pak cross-border trade further increase in trading hours, new infrastructure, arrangements to resolve all issues like mutual cooperation, harmonisation of Customs procedures, provision of laboratories facilities, scanners, weighbridges, cold houses, automation of business processes and containerised services are imperative. Sharing views on trade via Khokrapar border he said that road network needs to be constructed before making the said dry port operational. Hyderabad Dry Port for Customs Clearance of Goods is not feasible and it is 400KM from Zero-Point of Khokrapar-Monabao Border. Railways facilities at Khokrapar Station also need upgradation for trade utilisation. All facilities as introduced and installed at Wagha-Attari Border need to be established at the Khokrapar-Monabao Border to facilitate trade.

World Bank Group on Trade and Transport Facilitation Task Leader Ms Diep Nguyen-van Houtte apprised that responding to the request of the Government of Pakistan for World Bank support in trade and transport facilitation particularly in improvement of Wagha Border, World Bank’s initial scoping mission was on visit to Pakistan to conduct site visits and hold discussions with Public and Private sector in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. In this connection, the mission sought proposal from KCCI. The delegation recognised the active role of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry for promotion of trading and industrial activities in Karachi and elsewhere.

This mission informed that they will also visit the Khokrapar-Monabai Border for physical analysis. The WB team member included Hasan Zaidi (Transport Specialist), Manzoor-ur Rehman (Senior Transport Specialist), Charles Kunaka (Senior Trade Specialist), Clayton Kersweel ( Senior Customs and Trade Facilitation Specialist), Erik Nora (Operations Officer), Michel Zarnowiecki (Senior Customs and Border Management Specialist/Consultant), Amjad Bashir, (Operation Officer-IFC), Pierre Kattar (Communications and Media Consultant-IFC), Arsala Deane (Trade Facilitation Consultant-IFC), and Robert Struthers (Customs and Border Management Consultant-IFC).