Pak-China border trade set to resume next week

Published April 1, 2023
THE Khun­jerab border crossing was closed three years ago amid the coronavirus pandemic.—Dawn
THE Khun­jerab border crossing was closed three years ago amid the coronavirus pandemic.—Dawn

GILGIT: After remaining closed for three years, trade and travel activities between Pakistan and China through the Khun­jerab Pass will resume on Monday.

All arrangements have been finalised on both sides to reopen the border point for bilateral trade and other activities under the China-Pakistan Eco­nomic Corridor (CPEC).

Under an agreement, trade and travel activities between the two countries through the Khunjerab Pass start in April 1 and close on November 30, while there was a daily bus service from Sost Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan to Xinjiang province of China. The first trade activity between China and Pakistan under CPEC had started via the Karakoram Highway in November 2016.

However, to contain the transmission of coronavirus between the two countries, the Khunjerab Pass was closed as soon as in November 2019.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar told Dawn that the federal government had been working for the revival of CPEC activities and all hurdles in the way of bilateral trade would be removed.

According to officials, the prolonged closure of Khunjerab Pass had caused immense financial hardships to the local business community, while thousands of workers had become jobless. During last three years, the Khunjerab Pass had been opened occasionally for emergency cargo transportation from China to Pakistan on specific days.

GB Home Secretary Rana Mohammad Saleem Afzal told Dawn that the officials on both sides had agreed to reopen Khunjerab Pass for trade and travel activities from Monday (April 3) and process of issuing border pass would start soon.

“Most important aspect is that it’s CPEC route. CPEC consignments will enter Pakistan through Khunjerab Pass from China,” said the GB home secretary.

GB Collector of Customs Syed Fawad Ali Shah told Dawn that the volume of trade between two countries would increase after the reopening of the Khunjerab Pass. He said all the required arrangements had been finalised for normal trade at Sost dry port, adding that he had held a meeting with traders, the port management and other stakeholders in this regard.

Mr Shah claimed that all stakeholders were happy and assured the administration of their cooperation in smooth trade activities at Sost dry port.

Haji Liaquat of the GB Importers and Exporters Association said the people affiliated with trade between the two countries were optimistic about the revival of economic activities in the region. He said GB people and government exchequer suffered losses worth billions of rupees owing to the prolonged closure of trade at Sost dry port. He said the authorities should also resolve issues being faced by the people associated with trade.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2023

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