Implementation of APTTA: Pakistan accused of creating problems at port, border
Kabul on Thursday raised concerns with Islamabad for not implementing Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) in letter and in spirit and creating problems at Karachi port and border crossing points. Afghan Vice Minister for Commerce and Industry Mozamal Shinwari, is leading a delegation, in the third two-day meeting of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Co-ordination Authority (APTTCA) whereas Pakistani side is represented by the Additional Secretary Commerce, Fazal-i-Abbas Makan.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012
Key issues which came under discussion were transit trade routes, levies on vehicles, trade requiring the deposit of case amount as security, and installation of biometric system on trucks. According to the APTTA, both countries had agreed to convene bi-annual meeting of APTTCA, but this condition remained unimplemented.
"The reason for the delay in meetings of APTTCA was that perhaps both countries were not able to convene meetings due to non-availability of concerned officials of different agencies or departments at one time," said Shinwari, who stunned the officials of Commerce Ministry by delivering a very strong speech on non-implementation of APTTA. He said the committee should meet once in six months and this was what he also mentioned in his speech to the committee. The problems being faced by Afghanistan are insurance guarantees, and cross-border certificates of consignments.
"Sometimes we present cross-border certificates to the concerned customs department but our insurance guarantee is not released in accordance with the true spirit of APTTA," he added. Another major problem, Shinwari stated, was bank guarantee as none of the banks - whether in Pakistan or in Afghanistan - were ready to provide bank guarantees.
The third issue related to examination of consignments at the Karachi port. According to the agreement, it should be five percent of entire consignment but in real terms it is 100 per cent at Karachi port, he continued. "It's not only wastage of time and wastage of resources but it also disturbs cargo," he maintained.
According to the agreement, both sides are bound to take decisions on the basis of mutual consensus, but this is not being implemented. "I am quite hopeful that this meeting will be helpful in the resolution of confronting issues. Whenever you sit and talk you reach some kind of conclusion. I am not expecting that in a one- or two-day meetings, all kinds of problems will be solved but at least we have taken a step forward for improved implementation of APTTA which is a victory for us," he added.
Afghanistan is also exporting its goods via Pakistan especially fresh fruits to India through Wagha border. According to him, the biggest problem is that once fruit is brought to Peshawar, it is loaded to another vehicle for Wagha and from there it is shifted to another vehicle for India.
Pakistan is also exporting cement and steel to Afghanistan and Central Asian states. Pakistan's transit trade to and from Central Asia has increased manifold after implementation of APTTA 2010. He said trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan would improve which was $2.5 billion in 2010-11. According to him, the market is very close and Afghan people are very familiar with Pakistani products. Replying to a question, he said that installation of biometric system was moving forward under the 'Dubai process' as it was not directly linked with APTTCA meeting.
"Work is going on under the Dubai process and hopefully it will be installed soon," he further stated. Additional Secretary Commerce, Fazal-i- Abbas also acknowledged that APTTCA was facing operational issues which will come under discussion in the two-day parleys, and he hoped that an amicable resolution of issues would be found out by the committee members. He also recognised that biometric system was yet to be put in place by both sides.