The first container carrying trade products from China entered Pakistan on Sunday under a new road trade agreement between the two neighboring countries, with local businessmen calling it a “happy moment” for the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
The news comes just days after the two nations launched an international road transport (TIR) route between China’s inland city of Kashgar and Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, with the goal of increasing cross-border trade.
According to a Pakistani customs official, this is the first TIR trade route between China and Pakistan, highlighting a new manner of cross-border transport for Xinjiang and perhaps setting a precedent for future trade routes along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“Under the TIR agreement, two consignments bound for Afghanistan have arrived at the Sost Dry Port,” says Imtiaz Hussain, an assistant collector at Pakistan’s Silk Route Dry Port (SRDP) Sost.
“The cargo will be cleared on Monday before leaving for Afghanistan.”
As part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), long-time ally Beijing has offered more than $65 billion to fund CPEC infrastructure projects in Pakistan. The corridor will connect China to the Arabian Sea by a network of roads, railroads, pipelines, and ports in Pakistan, allowing Islamabad to expand and modernise its economy.
Currently, the total volume of trade between China and Pakistan exceeds $12.06 billion, an increase of nearly 19 percent from 2021, when it stood at $10.14 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new commercial route, according to mran Ali, president of the Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber of Commerce, will bring wealth to the region. “This is a joyous occasion for us. It would bring wealth to the region and offer up new economic prospects in Pakistan,” he added.
“With the opening of this route, commodity prices will be reduced in the future.”
This would be a “very feasible and shortest way” for Central Asian countries to link with China, according to Ali. “The opening of this route is a good omen for Pakistani traders,” he believes.