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TEXT: The Government of Pakistan is currently implementing the Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) at three Border Crossing Points (BCPs) of Torkham, Chaman and Wahgaunder the CAREC- RIBSProgramfunded by Asian Development Bank with Customs Wing, FBR, as the Lead Executing Agency. The Project aims at realizing the Government of Pakistan’s vision of becoming a transit hub through effective regional connectivity and enhanced trade facilitation to trigger economic growth, achieve poverty reduction and reinforce geo-economics by connecting CAREC region with the sea as well as to the South-East Asian economies. The Project therefore focuses on modernizingthe infrastructure of the said Customs Border Terminals and providing quality value-added services to reduce cross-border processing time for cargo and passengers,and also to improvethe skill-base of BCP operating agencies. The facilities include multi-agency administration and accommodation buildings for 24/7 Operationalization, well equipped Import and Export Customs Control Zones (CCZs) and passenger terminals, installation of Gantry, Pass-Through, and Dual View Inspection scanning equipment, cargo surveillance systems and e-Gates for passenger facilitation etc. The Project will also incorporate multi-modal road and rail facilities at Chaman and Torkham for cross-border CAREC connectivityfor cost-effective and environment-friendly long-distance multi-modal freight movement. E-Gates for passenger facilitation is another hall-mark of this Project. Establishment of Pakistan Land Port Authority (PLPA) under the ITTMS project intends to significantly improve port governance.

The ITTMS Project will lead to enhanced Trade Facilitation through least or no human interface/interruption between entry or exit points, integration of WeBOC with Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Portal for real-time data sharing with concerned stakeholders; Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) with regional economies&trading partners; digitized Non-Intrusive Scanning & Entry&Exit of cargo traffic in compliance with CSI, C-TPAT, TIR & AEO Cargo Security regimes for secure supply Chain;digital end-to-end tracking of containerized cargo on the whole supply chain through Geo-Fencing; reduction in Cost of Doing Business through speedy electronic verification of docs, clearance, weighing, scanning, and evaluation of transit goods for expedited cross-border cargo movement under WTO’s trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA);generation of Computerized e-Transit Reports (ETRs), conveyed to the exit point through integrated high-speed data linksfor the purpose of clearance in cooperation with all border enforcement agencies; digitized passengers profiling for cross-border movement; professional capacity building of Border Trade facilitation Agencies; and Socio-Economic Development generation for the local population for poverty reduction and skill development.

The Project will have the potential to open avenues for bilateral and regional industrial and investment cooperation under the proposed Cross Border Special Economic Zones at Torkham and Chaman. Such an initiative would be immensely beneficial for both Pakistan and Afghanistan as it can trigger the much-needed industrialization and resultant job creation for Afghanistan and bordering areas of Pakistan. The Border Crossing Points of Chaman and Torkham developed under FBR’s ITTMS Project (CAREC Corridor-5) therefore offer tremendous opportunity of setting up of Export Processing Zones in their vicinity for the Pakistani companies to manufacture export-oriented goods for Afghanistan, thereby benefitting both countries in terms of employment and revenue generation. The CAREC Transport & Trade Facilitation Strategy (TTFS) 2020 aims at increasing Port Efficiency and Competitiveness at the Corridors connecting the Country by developing physical infrastructure and logistics suprastructure through modern and fully equipped Customs Terminals. The Strategy also aims to reduce cost of doing business by improving quality of logistics services and increasing the level of connectivity of the six CAREC Corridors with Pakistan’s seaports to serve as gateways providing access to the global markets.

Muhammad Ali Raza

(Project Director)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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