India mulls setting up dry port at Attari to promote trade with Pakistan


The Indian government is considering setting up a container depot close to the Attari-Wagah border in order to facilitate trade between India and Pakistan, which has the potential to rise by 200 percent within a short span of time.
“We have written to the Central Board of Excise and Customs, conveying that there is a demand for container trade through the Attari border. We have suggested setting up of a dry port somewhere near the integrated check post at Attari,” Amritsar Customs Commissioner KK Sharma said. “Finance Ministry has taken up the matter with Commerce Ministry,” he added. Imports from Pakistan through the Attari border land route in the period from April to December, 2012, in value terms stood at Rs 6,300 million- an 87 percent increase over the corresponding period in 2011.
Besides, India’s export to Pakistan through this route stands at Rs 12,370 million in the April-December 2012 period, an increase of 54 percent over the corresponding period last year. Container Warehousing Corporation (CWC) could be entrusted with the task of building the storage facility for container trade, Sharma said, adding that if both rail and road routes work to full capacity, trade between the two countries could go up by as much as 200 percent.
He said traders preferred the land route for exporting goods to Pakistan.
Earlier, trade was allowed through head-load at the border but from October 1, 2007, both the governments have agreed to allow transportation of goods through trucks. At present, the goods coming from Pakistan through trucks are unloaded at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari, situated at a distance of 32 km from Amritsar and 28 km from Lahore. At the same time, Indian trucks can enter Pakistan and unload near the Wagah border.
Sharma said customs officials manually clear around 200 truck loads of goods for Pakistan everyday and the department is in the process of securing a scanner by the end of 2013 for speedier clearance of goods. The Pakistan side has already installed a scanner at the border to check the trucks. Sharma said setting up a container freight station somewhere between Wagah and Attari border would ensure speedier clearance of goods and facilitate trade between the two neighbours.
“We also have to start rail interchange movement again. If both rail and ICP function at full capacity, trade will go up substantially,” he added.