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KARACHI: In a landmark development with regards to regional connectivity, Pakistan has established road links with Turkey and Azerbaijan, as National Logistics Cell (NLC) on Friday sent five trucks loaded 40-feet containers of export goods from Karachi to Turkey and Azerbaijan via Iran very first time under the International Road Transport regime.

As per NLC officials, three out of the total five vehicles will cross Taftan and reach its final destination Istanbul through Gurbulak Border Terminal via Iran. The other two vehicles departed for Azerbaijan's capital Baku which are expected to reach its destination in 7-8 days. The journey from Karachi to Istanbul will be completed in just 8 to 10 days as against three to four weeks via traditional sea routes.

Also, NLC, the country's premier multimodal logistics organisation plans to extend commercial operations to other Central Asian Republics (CARs) and China in future as well, in order to improve economic stability, and integrating Pakistan's market with those in the region.

A ceremony to formally launch the Road Transport Operations to Turkey and Azerbaijan under TIR was organized by NLC here at the convention centre DHA Golf and Country Club. Federal Secretary Commerce Muhammad Sauleh Ahmad Faruqui was the chief guest on the occasion, Deputy Director General NLC Brigadier Nasir Zia representatives of trade bodies, importers/ exporters, entrepreneurs and senior government officials attended the ceremony.

Nasir Zia said that NLC has embarked upon its new vision of transforming into a multimodal logistics organisation with global outreach contributing towards growth of industry and business. NLC, with its capability in road, rail, sea and air freight operations, has attained the multimodal logistics status by the Grace of Allah, offering end-to-end logistics solutions.

Not only we are expanding our portfolio as end-to-end logistics provider, we have recently upgraded our fleet with induction of most modern prime movers and trailers, raising fleet size to 900 trucks, fully compliant to various regulations.

"Today is a very historic day - not only for NLC but for the entire business community, entrepreneurs, exporters/ importers and in fact for whole of Pakistan."

Commencement of commercial operations across the region under TIR, would be the first activity of its kind. It will open a new chapter in the regional connectivity.

General Manager Marketing NLC Syed Shoukat Abbas said that as an official TIR operator, NLC will offer door-to-door transportation services to the business community for exports and imports of goods.

TIR operations herald a new era of regional market connectivity through faster means of transportation at comparatively economical freight costs. Trade via road is expected to give significant boost to trade and business activities.

NLC has been awarded Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) admission by Pakistan National Transport Union for regional transport operations. The move is a major step towards inter regional connectivity through land route capitalising on enormous benefits of TIR's hassle free crossing of international borders. It would be instrumental for Pakistan to ensure ease of doing business in the country and to explore more export markets in the region.

Meanwhile, the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce on Trade and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood also took to twitter saying: "I congratulate the NLC on starting IRT operations to Turkey and Azerbaijan, this is the beginning of a new era of connectivity through trucking under Ministry of Commerce's Silk Rout reconnect policy. It is a milestone in making Pakistan a transit and transhipment hub."

He further said many private companies are applying to get TIR permission and the government assures full support to them. It will attract investment and create opportunities for our logistics companies and allied services due to flow of international trade traffic through Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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