Key CPEC route blocked as local traders protest

Gilgit [PoK]: Trade with China through the Khunjerab Pass, a key part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has been halted for more than a month over objections to the existing clearance system.

Traders have reportedly refused to clear their consignments through newly introduced Web-Based One Customs (WeBOC) system at Sust Dry Port.

Presently, about 36 trucks carrying goods to and from China are stranded at the Sust Dry Port due to this ongoing dispute.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GBCCI) and this trade organisations are backing these traders (exporters and importers) who have rejected the goods clearance system, the Dawn has reported.
The system was launched last month.

Talks are being held between trader representatives, the FBR [Pakistan Customs] and the government officials to settle the issue, but a consensus is yet to be reached.

The traders feel that the region lacks proper internet service and they aren’t educated enough to learn the WeBOC system. They fear this will render thousands of people jobless.

According to the FBR, this online system will make trade through the Pakistan-China border easy and help improve dry ports operations across the country.

GBCCI President Nasir Hussain Raki questioned the government’s motives in that introducing the WeBOC system at Sust Dry port. He claimed this is “a conspiracy to cause the trade between Pakistan and China to fail.”

Raki plans to now mount pressure on the government for acceptance of demands by blocking traffic on the Karakoram Highway (KKH).

His other demand is that Gilgit Baltistan should be declared a tax-free zone.
Due to heavy snowfall, the Khunjerab Pass, which shares its border with China, remains closed from December to March every year.