In what can be considered a landmark development, four trucks of the National Logistics Cell (NLC), Pakistan, loaded with 40-feet-tall containers of export goods, left Karachi for Turkey and Azerbaijan, two each, via road-link under the International Road Transport (TIR) regime in September (2021).
Though it looks humble on the face of it this commencement of commercial operations across the region under TIR is the first activity of its kind and is set to open a new chapter in regional connectivity. Trade via road, under the cover of TIR, is expected to give a significant boost to trade and business activities.
Pakistan has become the 78th country to join TIR in 2021. This Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover TIR carnets (TIR Convention) is a multilateral treaty concluded at Geneva in November-1975 to simplify and harmonize the administrative formalities of international road transport.
This international carnet convention will allow Pakistani trucks bound for Turkey to cross international borders of intervening states – like Afghanistan or Turkmenistan, etc. – without paying duties and taxes.
While the “TIR Convention” is a United Nations Convention administered by the IRU (The International Road Union) based in Geneva, PNC-ICC (The Pakistan National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce) is the associate member of IRU and represents IRU’s presence in Pakistan.
The NLC was awarded TIR admission by Pakistan National Authorization Committee (PNC-ICC) at the beginning of September and had commenced its first operation within the same month. As an official TIR operator, the NLC had been granted the ability to offer door-to-door transportation services to the business community for exports and imports of goods.
Ministry of Commerce under the Imran Khan government is championing the cause of regional connectivity. PM’s Adviser on Commerce, Razzaq Dawood, speaking recently to a business forum in Dushanbe (September 16), told his audience that the countries can only grow economically when the overall region in which they are located grows.
Abdul Razak Dawood
Adviser to PM on Commerce, Trade & Investments
“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
the Ministry of Commerce’s Silk Route
reconnect policy. It is a milestone
in making Pakistan a transit and
Pakistan is thus very eager to broaden and deepen its trade links with Central Asian republics. This was repeatedly emphasized by Pakistani government officials during prime minister’s visits to Uzbekistan (July 2021) and Tajikistan (Sept 2021).
So NLC’s push for inter-regional connectivity is taking place in a broader context. Pakistan has now initiated road links with Turkey and Azerbaijan, thereby capitalizing on the enormous benefits offered by the TIR’s hassle-free crossing of international borders. It is instrumental for Pakistan to ensure ease of doing business in the country and to explore more export markets in the region.
National Insurance Company Ltd (NICL) is an NLC’s partner in this endeavor; it is providing insurance cover to the goods in transit under the international regimes of TIR and CMR to its valued public sector clients.
NICL, which the Government of Pakistan wholly owns, has been functioning under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce and exclusively providing strategic risk coverage to the public properties and assets since its inception in 1976 as a corporation.
NICL, however, was transformed into a more dynamic entity when it was incorporated in Pakistan on March 31, 2000, as a public limited company under the Companies Ordinance 1984 through NICL (Reorganization) Ordinance 2000. While it
continues to provide general insurance to assets of the federal and provincial governments, it can now also offer its services to corporate bodies in the private sector.
NLC officials later announced that three out of the total five trucks crossed Taftan to reach their destination in Istanbul through Gurbulak Border Terminal via Iran. The cargo journey from Karachi to Istanbul has thus been reduced to eight to ten days: remarkable achievement against the three to four-week-long journeys via traditional sea routes.
The remaining two trucks had reached Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, in what was announced as a seven to eight day-long journey.
A ceremony to formally launch the Road Transport Operations to Turkey and Azerbaijan under TIR was organized by NLC, hosting key representatives of trade bodies, importers/exporters, entrepreneurs, and senior government officials were also present. Muhammad Sauleh Ahmad Faruqui, Federal Commerce Secretary of Pakistan, was also in attendance as the Chief Guest.
“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,” expressed Deputy Director, NLC, Brigadier, Nasir Zia on occasion.
The NLC also plans to extend commercial operations to the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and China in the future as well, in order to improve economic stability, integrate Pakistan’s market with those in the region, and make more breakthroughs as a front-runner in regional connectivity.