NATIONAL Logistic Cell (NLC) really deserves credit for initiating a highly beneficial project at Gwadar, which, on completion in six months, would go a long way in attracting import/export activities and optimum utilization of the port facilities.
The project is aimed at automation, standardization and harmonization of all logistic services related to land, air and sea routes under the Pakistan Single Window (PSW).
It will connect the Web-based One Customs (WeBOC) system with the Gwadar Port, customs, banking channels and other institutions to increase efficiency and reduce the time taken for processing in various departments.
Gwadar has all the potential to become a hub of regional trade because of its peculiar location but absence of required facilities and infrastructure is one of the major hurdles in the way of its proper operationalization.
It is the nature of the facilitation that plays a crucial role in attracting import/export business and with this in view Gwadar needs to be made most competitive in terms of infrastructure facilities, cost of the services and the time taken to clear goods.
Presently, an import container in Pakistan bears a cost of $417 and takes 216 hours in the regulation process as against $366 and clearing time of 85 hours in a neighbouring country and just seven working hours and a cost of $342 in South Korea.
In this backdrop, the mega initiative of the NLC is appreciable as it would help bring down significantly both the cost and the time for clearance of a container.
The single window facility would permit parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements.
Gwadar’s air, rail and road links with the rest of the country and with other countries may also be improved on a fast track basis if we are genuinely interested in making it a hub of business, trade and investment opportunities.