Pakistan has successfully dispatched its first transit shipment to Kazakhstan along the historic Silk Route, ushering in a new age of trade between the two countries. This accomplishment is the outcome of the Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) signed by Pakistan, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.
The historic event was marked at the Silk Route Dry Port (SRDP) in Sost, near the China-Pakistan (Khunjerab) border. His Excellency Mr. Yerzhan Kistafin, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Pakistan, was present, as were other dignitaries such as Col (R) Ubaidullah, the Minister of Commerce for Gilgit Baltistan, Syed Fawad Ali Shah, the Collector Customs for Gilgit-Baltistan, Mr. Rana Muhammad Saleem Afzal, the Secretary Home for Gilgit-Baltistan, and business representatives.
The first-ever transit shipment left SRDP, Sost in Pakistan and will travel through China to its final destination in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This newly formed transit route holds a lot of potential because it is intended to cut trade time and costs between Pakistan and Kazakhstan significantly. Furthermore, it offers up new opportunities for regional trade between Pakistan, China, and the Central Asian Republics (CARs).
Pakistan Customs played a critical role in making this transit trade a reality, demonstrating its unwavering commitment to facilitating and developing trade, particularly transit commerce. Chairman FBR- Mr. Asim Ahmed, Member Customs (Operations)- Mr. Mukarram Jah Ansari, Director General Transit Trade- Mr. Wajid Ali, and Chief Collector Customs (North)- Mr. Imran Mohmand have all contributed to this historic achievement.
The start of transit trade to the CARs demonstrates not just Pakistan Customs’ dedication, but also the potential transformation of the Pakistan-China land border at Sost, Khunjerab, into an international hub for cross-border and transit trade. This breakthrough has enormous implications for economic growth and regional connections.
Officials anticipate that the transit trade breakthrough will promote not only Pakistan-Kazakh trade relations, but also economic cooperation with China and the CARs. Pakistan intends to tap into the untapped potential of Central Asian markets by utilizing the Silk Route and the QTTA, opening up new avenues for exports and economic development in the region.
The current trade volume between Pakistan and Kazakhstan is $219 million, which is well below its full potential. Pakistan has traditionally relied on export markets in the Middle East, the United States, and the European Union (EU), but Central Asian states represent a sizable untapped market for Pakistani products.
The Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) is a transit trade agreement between China, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan that enables transit traffic and trade. This arrangement, which is also part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), provides a great communication link between Central Asia and the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.
This route has become more profitable since the establishment of the Gwadar Port in Balochistan region, particularly for Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Furthermore, the recurrent frequency of border closures with Afghanistan has highlighted the importance of this transit route for Pakistan.
Tajikistan indicated interest in joining the QTTA in February 2017, while Uzbekistan showed interest in joining the agreement in May 2020. The initial work on this road project began in 1995, underlining the region’s long-standing attempts to develop a comprehensive and efficient transit commerce network.