Islamabad: Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have decided to start trade under Quadrilateral Agreement on traffic-in-transit from May 15, an official source at the communications ministry told Daily Times Saturday.
Ministers belonging to these four countries were earlier scheduled to announce the operationalisation of the agreement on December 25, 2003, but now the four countries have decided to initiate the trade under the agreement from May 15, with out holding a formal ceremony because of non-availability of the concerned ministers. These four countries had signed the agreement in 1995, but no progress had been made. The source said in August last year, on Pakistan's initiative, it was decided to implement the agreement and added: "there were some pending issues with regard to issuing the permit to the goods vehicles for transit."
"Now the four countries have also completed their homework and have evolved a consensus on the issues."
The sources said after developing a consensus, these countries have decided to start trade under the said agreement from May.
"Under the agreement, every country would issue 200 road permits to traders of each member country for the initial period of 15 months, which would be reviewed after every three months so as to increase or decrease the number of permits according to the requirements," he said.
He said all the four countries have decided to waive the transit fee and toll charges on the traffic-in-transit, which would boost trade volume amongst these countries.
The source said neighboring countries like India and Iran are deprived of the road link with the Central Asian states while Pakistan is in a position to exploit Gawadar and Port Qasim facilities through Indus Highway and Karakorum Highway to have a trade link with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan through China.
"At present, the trade volume of China has swelled manifold because of the preferential trade agreement and Pakistan has no trade with the two Central Asian States but with the implementation of the agreement, the trade with these countries would start," he said.
In the wake of World Trade Organization regime, all the countries across the globe have started to explore trade agreements for economic survival.
The source said the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the Omani Fund are extending funds to improve national highways, and to strengthen existing road network of Balochistan, as the roads in the province would play an important role in trade with Central Asian states.
By Khalid Mustafa,
Daily Times, April 17, 2004