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United States Agency for International Development Project aimed at improving Customs system by getting implemented E-governance system

Lahore, November 27, 2012 (PPI-OT): A four-member USAID team Tuesday listened to the business community point of view on issues coming in the way of Pak-India trade through Wagah.

The team headed by Jim Sutton and comprising John Walker, Saradr Humayun and Ahsan Nadeem called on LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar and Executive Committee Members and shared salient features of the USAID Project on Pak-India trade.

The LCCI former Senior Vice President Abdul Basit, former Vice Presidents Aftab Ahmad Vohra, Saeeda Nazar, Executive Committee members Aasia Saail Khan, Hassan Amjad, Amjad Chaudhry, Mian Zahid Javed were prominent among the participants.

The team leader informed the LCCI President that the USAID Project is aimed at improving the customs system by getting implemented E-governance system that is universally accepted and recognized by all the countries.

He said that the USAID team had meetings with Federal Minister for Commerce, Chairman FBR and they are willing to extend every possible help for the implementation of the system in letter and spirit.

The USAID is presently working on updating its Wagha Border Assessment Study with a view to catering the expected search in overland trade between India and Pakistan. The updating version of the assessment will be providing the latest position covering the movement of freight by road and rail, the USAID team leader said.

LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar appreciated ongoing USAID Trade Project for capacity building programme of concerned government departments including Federal Board of Revenue and Customs to improve regional and cross-border trade particularly with Afghanistan and India.

The LCCI President informed the USAID team that the slow pace of infrastructure development at Wagah is a matter of grave concern and needs to be expedited. Pak-India trade volume at present is around US$ 2 billion and figures will go as high as US$ 4 to 5 billion in a couple of years against the potential of US$ 10 billion.

Farooq Iftikhar said that no proper shed facility is available to the Pakistani exporters to secure their valuable consignments while a state-of-the-art computerized weigh bridge has become need of the hour.

“Pakistani borders lack sufficient infrastructure and modern integrated check-posts and indispensable services. Customs and border procedures are not ideally oriented for trade facilitation. Single window facility as per international trade practices is essential. He suggested Pakistan Railways Network has almost collapsed and Cross-Border Trade was totally dependent on Road Transport which was very costly due to high consumption of costly fuel.”

He said that other factors that are adversely affecting the trade process include unduly long time for clearance of shipments, insufficient number of trucks to carry goods across the border, high loading and unloading service charges etc.

“Laboratories and other testing facilities are at quite distant places which cause undue delays in clearing the shipments and Pakistani exporters at times find it much hard to fulfill all the requirements of Indian importers with regard to their particular standards, certifications, or licensing.”

The LCCI President said that many private companies are interested to build the required infrastructure at Wagah independently or in partnership with public sector but certain procedures are coming in way due to sensitive border area.

Farooq Iftikhar said that there is no doubt that Pakistan has rail network to support the trade with India but the current problems of Pakistan Railways are not promising good future at all because of shortage of power vans, cargo wagons and fuel.

Earlier, the LCCI president thanked the USAID team for taking the initiative to facilitate the business community on regular basis and maintaining close liaison with chambers of commerce on important issues including Pak-India trade.

For more information, contact:
Shahid Khalil
Information Department
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)
Lahore -54000, Pakistan
Tel: +9242 111 222 499
Fax: +92 42 636 8854

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