A milestone has been achieved in Pakistan’s transit trade history as the first containerised shipment by trucks from Karachi under the Transport Internationaux Routier (TIR) Rules has cleared Torkham and is on its way to Uzbekistan. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood announced this in a tweet on Friday. The adviser also said that the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has been working to open up trade with Uzbekistan and beyond. He added that this is the beginning of a new era whereby there would be free movement of trucks among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs). Earlier in the day, the advisor attended a briefing on recent developments in the trade and connectivity of Pakistan with the neighbouring regions. Speaking on the occasion, the advisor said that connectivity with trading partners is vital for viable trade relations. He said that the structure and efficiency connectivity networks enable access to markets and should be considered a facet of the trade competitiveness. Dawood said, “The long-term vision of the government for trade and economic relations with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) is that we want to make Pakistan a hub for trade, transit & transshipment.” He said that the trade must be based on secure, open, consistent, reliable and legal movement of goods at the Afghan border along with enhanced connectivity with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and CARs. This will ensure that Pakistan leverages its geo-economic location in the region to enhance its international trade. He said that the current engagement with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan are steps towards implementation of this vision. He was informed that a milestone has been achieved in Pakistan’s transit trade history as Pakistan Customs processed the first-ever TIR consignment at Torkham destined for Tashkent (Uzbekistan) via Afghanistan on Thursday. The consignment consisted of herbal medicines and after completion of all customs formalities at Torkham, it crossed into Afghanistan. Dawood said that this is a moment of great pride for Pakistan and he lauded the efforts and role of the Pakistan Customs in this regard. This successful TIR operation will usher a new era of direct land-route trade with the CARs. He said that the use of the TIR system will streamline border procedure, cutting time and money for trade and transport operators. The customs convention on the international transport of goods under cover of TIR Carnets (called the “TIR Convention”) came into force in March 1978 and it replaced the original Transport Internationaux Routier (TIR) of 1959. Pakistan became a member of TIR Convention in 2017 and now the convention has 68 contracting parties including China, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and all CARs. The objective of the TIR Convention is to facilitate international transit through simplified Customs transit procedures and an international guarantee system. Customs procedure takes place at origin and destination rather than at each border crossing, using a single guarantee.