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Meeting of Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Road Corridor project

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ISLAMABAD (Pakistan Daily Times) – The first meeting of Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Road Corridor project was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications here on Monday and discussed opening up of transit trade route between the three countries.

Pakistan offered six various routes with Iranian border city of Taftan including Karachi-Taftan, Gwadar-Gabd-Taftan and Peshawar-Quetta-Taftan for enhancing trade among the member countries. Meeting on Transport and Communications at Ashgabat, Tajikistan, in June 2011 had agreed to establish two road transport corridors in the ECO region, one between Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul and the other between Iran-Tajikistan-Kyrgyz Republic.

The meeting discussed the official borders crossing and routes, mutually agreed transit system, permit issues, vehicle weight, dimensions and other specifications, customs clearance/working hours at the border points and ways and means for facilitation of visa for drivers.

The meeting also discussed the Transport International Rotier (TIR), which allows the free movement of the drivers in the member countries and provides guarantees to the host country. Pakistan has not yet acceded to the TIR and it is under consideration by the government. The meeting discussed the modus operandi to facilitate the Pakistani trade so that the trade activity can continue till Pakistan accedes to the TIR. Earlier, while inaugurating the session, Federal Secretary for Communications Anwar Ahmed Khan said that National Highway Authority, Ministry of Communications is executing around 100 projects with an over-stretched portfolio of $7,000 million to achieve this ambitious goal. The purpose is to provide linkages with neighbouring countries to give boost to bilateral relations and enhance trade.

Presence of delegates from Turkey and Iran, in the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Road Corridor meeting, shows the commitment of the member states to achieve this project within the shortest possible time, he said. We shall take great inspiration from the successful launch of the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul cargo train and certainly, this gathering raises hope that fulfilling of our common objective is not very far and I assure you on behalf of the government of Pakistan, of our complete cooperation, he added.

Khan emphasised that scope of cooperation should not be limited to public and government sector only as in today’s world the private sector has become the real engine of growth and needs facilitation from the government sector. We should endeavour for joint private sector entrepreneurships for development of specific infrastructure and transport-logistics facilities for efficient movement of goods and services through the Islamabad-Tehran-Islamabad corridor, he added.

Khan said that this event will provide us an opportunity to further cement our historical, cultural and trade ties and to interact and share views on various aspects of transport and commerce. Nevertheless, it would undoubtedly help us to promote inter regional integration and identify and overcome the shortcomings.

The federal secretary said that establishment of road corridor will greatly facilitate implementation of Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA) - an agreement signed a decade ago to facilitate trade and transport among the 10-member Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). The successful launch of Truck Caravan from Pakistan in 2010 has further strengthened the belief that now there is a need to start regular operations of goods and passengers movement within the ECO Region.

ECO Deputy Secretary General Altaf Asghar while speaking at the occasion said that development of trade corridor is an important component of modern world development strategy and ECO countries also recognise its importance. International financial institutions like Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank are also investing in development of the trade corridors. We should also take advantage of their investments, he added. Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Cargo Train has given impetus to the trade corridor, he told.

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