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Asia | Kashgar

New TIR trade route opens connecting China to Pakistan and Afghanistan

6 Sep 2023 · Prosperity

IRU member CEVA Logistics and Pakistani transport company NLC completed the first operation along this new TIR route, linking Kashgar, China, to Pakistan by door-to-door road transport for the first time. NLC also extended this route to Kabul, Afghanistan. 

Using the global transit system TIR, three National Logistics Cell (NLC) trucks departed from China’s inland city of Kashgar on 24 August, entering Pakistan just one day later via the world’s highest border crossing point, the Khunjerab (China) and Sust (Pakistan) border crossing.

One truck delivered goods in Pakistan, while the other two continued their journey and crossed Afghanistan’s Torkham border on 1 September, before arriving in Kabul two days later. The door-to-door road transport from Kashgar to Kabul, the first of its kind, took just 10 days.

New TIR trade route opens connecting China to Pakistan and Afghanistan

Yan Zhou, IRU’s Chief Representative of East and Southeast Asia, said, “The importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) goes far beyond the two countries – it also links China to the Middle East and Europe through Pakistan. Countries in the region, like Afghanistan, will also benefit from the development of CPEC.”

“With TIR now active along the CPEC, which this year is marking its 10th anniversary under the Belt and Road Initiative, we will diversify transport routes between China and Pakistan, further enhancing regional trade resilience and security,” she added. 

Kelvin Tang, Global Cross Border and Multimodal Product Leader at CEVA Logistics, said, “This successful pilot is another milestone of CEVA exploring new TIR corridors, and marks the beginning of a new chapter in Chinese-Pakistani road transport.”

“CEVA is committed to developing and delivering more flexible and efficient international logistics solutions for our customers,” he added.

New TIR trade route opens connecting China to Pakistan and Afghanistan

Brig Nasir Zia, NLC's Chief Operating Officer, said, "This milestone achievement, facilitated by IRU under the TIR Convention, represents a pivotal advancement not only by activating the CPEC corridor, but also in the domain of transit trade along the China-Pakistan-Afghanistan corridor."

"The result of the transport shows that this route slashes travel times by approximately 70% compared to maritime and promises substantial reductions in logistics costs, anticipated to be at least 50%," he added.

NLC, together with IRU and the Economic Cooperation Organization, opened the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) corridor in 2021, which, on average, cuts transport times by 80% compared to the normal maritime route.

In June 2023, NLC also pioneered the use of the TIR system to deliver products from Pakistan to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan via Afghanistan, arriving in record time to its destination, 70-80% faster compared to alternative transport options.

New TIR trade route opens connecting China to Pakistan and Afghanistan

What is TIR?

The TIR system enables goods to be shipped from a country of origin to a country of destination in sealed load compartments that are controlled by customs via a multilateral, mutually recognised system. 

TIR streamlines procedures at borders, reducing the administrative burden for customs authorities and transport and logistics companies. It cuts border waiting times significantly, saving time and money.