ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $250 million loan to boost cross-border trade activity with its neighboring countries by reducing customs processing time for cargo and goods at the three key border points of Charman, Torkham, and Wagha.
“Customs operations have improved substantially since 2010, but border point performance has lagged due to poor infrastructure and facilities, weak governance, insecurity and remoteness, and the lack of Internet access,” said Dong-Soo Pyo, Lead Transport Specialist in ADB’s Central and West Asia Department. “The project seeks to improve current infrastructure and facilities and to help the government establish transparent border point management. ”
The project is part of the ADB-supported Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program, a 10 country-partnership for regional cooperation in transport, energy, trade facilitation, trade policy, and other key sectors of mutual interest. CAREC member countries are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. To improve border services with other CAREC countries, Pakistan will streamline transport, trade, logistics, customs, and other trade-related border control operations.
The project will construct modernized border point infrastructure and facilities, compliant with internationally accepted standards in Charman and Torkham—the two main transit stations for cross-border Afghan trade—as well as in Wagha, the only open land route connecting South Asia to Central Asia. The works will include ICT equipment and connectivity to link each border point with the central customs database, security trade facilitation equipment, and the construction of border point infrastructure.
The assistance will help the government establish the Pakistan Land Port Authority to manage national land border points and develop modern administrative and financial procedures so that project facilities will be under the custody and management of a specialized land port operating agency. The project will also train officials and professional staff from relevant agencies to adequately run the modernized border point infrastructure and facilities, and to provide quality border point services.
The $250 million loan comes from ADB’s ordinary capital resources ($150 million) and its concessional Asian Development Fund ($100 million), with the government providing another $50 million in counterpart support. The project will run for 5 years, with a target completion date of December 2021.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.