ISLAMABAD (APP) - For boosting trade activities in the country and enhancing exports the government has planned to spend Rs 520 billion by 2012 to develop National Trade Corridor (NTC). A source in Ministry of Communications told APP on Saturday that the NTC will link upper parts of the country in the North with ports in the South to reduce travel time and fuel cost by improving existing road network and introducing new highways and motorways by 2012. The development of NTC would cause multi-faceted benefits, reduce the losses and significantly contribute to the national exchequer, he added. He said that eight largest population centres are along the North-South corridor and 80 per cent of Pakistan's total population falls in this corridor. On completion of the first phase of NTC by 2012 the cargo travel time from Karachi to Peshawar would be reduced from 72 hours to 36 hours, and road losses would be reduced to the tune of over $1 billion per annum, which will reduce annual transportation cost by 10 per cent, the source added. Talking about steps being taken for development of road network, he said 600 kilometres portion of Karakoram Highway is being upgraded and expanded by Chinese help. He told the APP that the main artery and the main North- South corridor linking Karachi with Torkham on Pakistan- Afghanistan border via Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar the National Highway N-5 is the mainstay of the country's road network and its economic lifeline. The Great Trunk road N-5 has been converted into a dual carriageway and it is being rehabilitated on priority basis. Similarly Indus Highway,(N-55) which is on the left bank of the Indus river, is also being constructed according to the specifications of the Asian Highways recommended by the Asian Development Bank. After construction of the Kohat Tunnel, N-55 is set to play a vital role not only for Pakistan but for inter- regional connectivity also,he added. The Motorway Network would provide connectivity between Karachi and Peshawar through an independent corridor. Motorway between Peshawar and Islamabad (M-1),Islamabad-Lahore Motorway (M- 2) and Pindi Bhattian-Faisalabad Motorway (M-3) are already in operation. Under the NTC the motorway network shall also be extended to Gwadar Port, which has already been linked to Karachi through the Makran Coastal Highway. Among the other highways being upgraded include the Karakoram Highway (N-35) which leads to China, the National Highway (N-25) which connects Karachi with Chaman on the Afghanistan border and National Highway (N-40) which links Quetta with Taftan on the Iranian border and the National Highway (N-65) is the shortest link between Quetta and interior Sindh.