ISLAMABAD (APP) - Pakistan and Asian Development Bank (ADB) here Wednesday signed agreement for the first instalment of the Multitranche Financing Facility (MFF) for the National Trade Corridor Highway Investment Programme. Out of total $900m ADB loan, the first trenche of $180m assistance will be used for the construction of a 58-kilometre highway (Section 1) between Faisalabad and Khanewal. The highway project would be executed by NHA. The loan agreement was signed by ADB Pakistan Resident Mission's Country Director, Rune Stroem and Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Farrukh Qayyum, while the project agreement was signed by ADB Country Director and NHA, Altaf Ahmed Chaudhry. The $900m MFF is a part of the $5.36b investment plan by Pakistan's NHA, which envisages upgrading of the highway from Karachi to Peshawar as well as links to the port of Gwadar and China. On completion, travel time between Karachi and Peshawar, a distance of 1,700 kilometres will be cut from 72 hours to 36 hours. Speaking on the occasion, Farrukh Qayyum said that the government was determined to develop a fast, efficient and cost-effective corridor for land transportation. He said that the National Trade Corridor would help reduce the transportation cost, eliminate bottlenecks in the logistic chain, boost economy, generate jobs and ultimately reduce poverty. He said that the objective of the loan was to achieve the targeted objectives against Vision 2030 by raising the trade to the gross domestic product ration from 30 percent to 60 percent. Assistance of $4b is expected from various donor agencies by June end Farrukh Qayyum said adding that this includes $1.8b from Asian Development Bank. Speaking on the occasion, Rune Stroem said that an efficient road network was a key to promoting economic growth and enhancing welfare of the people by catalysing better opportunities for them in accessing markets, jobs and social services. He was of the view that the project would help develop a fast and cost- effective corridor for land transportation, which will stimulate regional trade flows and will allow Pakistan to act as a transit artery for goods moving between Arabian Sea ports in the South and Central Asia and China in the north. "Expansion and rehabilitation of national highway networks will have positive impact on Pakistan's Economy," Stroem said adding that reduced travel and transportation distances across the country would help industry and agriculture sector.