In a first, Pakistan has dispatched a shipment to Uzbekistan under the Transport Internationaux Routier (TIR) agreement.

“Pakistan takes the first practical step to begin trade relations with Uzbekistan,” stated a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce on Friday.

“A milestone has been achieved in the history of Pakistan’s transit trade as Pakistan Customs processed the first-ever TIR consignment at Torkham on Thursday, which was destined for Tashkent (Uzbekistan) via Afghanistan.”

Read: Pakistan, Uzbekistan vow to bolster bilateral ties

According to the statement, the consignment consisted of herbal medicines and it entered Afghanistan following the completion of all formalities of the Customs at Torkham border.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood termed the shipment a moment of great pride for Pakistan.

Topline Securities analyst Shankar Talreja, however, lamented the negligible volume of exports from Pakistan to Uzbekistan. Presenting figures, he said that in the first nine months of fiscal year 2020-21, exports to the Central Asian country amounted to just $14 million, which was less than 1% of total exports from Pakistan.

“Imports from Uzbekistan are also negligible,” he pointed out. “Products that the Central Asia nation imports from other countries include steel tubes and pipes, electronic items, cement, steel bars and textile.”

He added that Pakistan had exportable surplus in a few of these products and companies could benefit from this to achieve economies of scale and earn foreign exchange for the country. Based on data of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), total exports of the country rose 2.3% to $18.7 billion in the first nine months (Jul-Mar) of current fiscal year.

Foreign shipments gained momentum in the second and third quarters of fiscal year 2020-21. “The successful TIR operation is expected to usher in a new era of trading between Pakistan and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) through land routes,” he said.

“Utilisation of the TIR agreement will streamline border procedures and save time and money of trade and transport operators,” he said.

Read more: Army chief, Uzbekistan’s FM discuss Afghan peace process

Pakistan became a member of the TIR Convention in 2017. The objective of the convention is to facilitate international transit by simplification of customs procedures and an international guarantee system. Under TIR, customs procedures take place at the origin and destination countries rather than at every border crossed by the shipment.

Earlier, Dawood attended a briefing on recent developments in trade and connectivity of Pakistan with the neighbouring regions. During the meeting, he said that connectivity with trading partners was vital for viable trade relations.

“The structure and efficiency of connectivity networks enable access to markets and should be considered a facet of trade competitiveness,” he said.

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