CPEC, international transport of goods

The good news is that the price of oil in the international market has come down from $123 per barrel in March to $81 per barrel. A sharp drop of 35 percent in the price of oil could cut our import bill by a hefty $10 billion. The other good news is that we are no longer on the FATF’s dreaded ‘gray list’. The other good news is that the current account deficit during the first four months of the fiscal year 2023 has come down to $2.8 billion; down 47 percent. Pakistan’s forex reserves are equal to just five weeks of merchandise imports. The consistent depreciation of the rupee is deepening the economic crisis, and the country is “in a financial emergency”. 

At the end of March, the rupee stood at 183.48 to $1. Now it is closed at 224.40. To come out of this financial crisis Trade and Industry of the country have urged to speed up efforts for maximum utilization of international trade routes by road, especially, the efficient and commercial use of the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) corridor. Pakistan has already ratified the United Nations Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of the TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) in July 2015. But unfortunately, it has not been utilized the way it should be. The Pakistan Turkiye Business Council Chairman and Focal Convener on T.I.R. Matters of FPCCI Amjad Rafi have been following up on this matter vigorously for the last more than one year. 

The worldwide trading Goods carnets are issued by the International Chamber of Commerce and in the recent past, Pakistan issued only 20 TIR carnets while Iran issued the maximum number of more than 125,604 TIR carnets in the year 2021 to holders making him the biggest Issuer of TIR carnets. It may be mentioned here that Iran is a sanctioned county and you cannot purchase or sell goods of certain types to that country but transit permission means that you loaded a truck from Karachi, got customs clearance and it would be opened after reaching its destination in Azerbaijan or Turkiye after passing through Iran. It means that you are internationally allowed to use the Iranian roads corridor for trading purposes. If there is any suspicion about it there is an SOP established for this purpose. Hence, the Govt. should seriously concentrate on this vital element for the promotion of exports and earning precious foreign exchange. 

-Published in the November 2022 edition of MOBILE WORLD Magazine