Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has opened a "dry port" to facilitate border trade with China in Sust in the Northern Areas, a move that came a day before China and India resume trading through Nathu La in Sikkim Thursday.
Located 11,000 feet above sea level, the Chinese-built dry port at Sust, 87 km from Khunjarab Pass and 455 km from the Chinese city of Kashgar, was opened on Tuesday.
It would earn Rs 1.5 billion revenue annually and enhance trade between the two countries as well as help control smuggling, The News reported from Gilgit.
Pakistan would import auto parts, watches, toys, crockery and garments amongst other things from China, while exporting cotton, cloth, dry fruit, dates and leather goods.
Inaugurating the port, Musharraf dwelt on Pakistan's "central geo-strategic location at the heart of regions, including Western parts of China, Central Asian states, Afghanistan, Iran, India and the oil-rich Gulf countries". He said he saw a pivotal role for Pakistan in enhancing trade between them.
"Such is Pakistan's geo-strategic strength it would play a vital role in promoting trade between members of major regional groupings, including SAARC, Economic Cooperation Organisation and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Trade interaction between the regional countries has to take place through Pakistan," Musharraf underlined.
The Pakistan President pointed out that the new dry port facility was part of an elaborate infrastructure network being put in place across Pakistan. Improvements in the Karakoram highway would provide China the shortest access to the Middle East and other world markets through Pakistani deep-sea ports like Gwadar.
Pakistan, he said, would become a trade and energy corridor for China and landlocked Central Asian countries.