Transit trade to Afghanistan through Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar seaport began on Sunday with a consignment of bulk cargo from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The first transit consignment of bulk cargo through Gwadar to Afghanistan started today. Several consignments are lined up for coming days,” said Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan, on Twitter.
“We have crossed another milestone towards establishing our credentials as a transit city,” he added.
The ship carrying Afghan trade goods anchored at the Gwadar Sea port, which were transported to Afghanistan after customs clearance, a local journalist reported.
With its 600-kilometer coastline, Balochistan’s Gwadar is a key deep seaport currently operated by China, which seeks to gain direct access to the Indian Ocean via Gwadar in line with its $64 billion Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega project.
The mega project is hoped to help China get cheaper access to African and the Middle Eastern countries and also help Pakistan earn billions of dollars in return of providing transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.
Recently, Pakistan also reopened a key border crossing to continue exports from Afghanistan to India under the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).
The 2010 bilateral trade agreement provides Afghan traders access to the eastern Wagah border with India, where Afghan goods are offloaded onto Indian trucks.
The mutual agreement, however, does not permit Indian trade goods to be loaded onto trucks for transit back to Afghanistan.
Last month, Islamabad also reopened three key trade routes to Afghanistan – the southwestern Chaman, northwestern Torkham, and Ghulam Khan border crossings – for transit trade and exports between the two countries.