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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday announced reopening of Wagha border crossing from Wednesday (July 15) to allow the export of Afghan goods to India "with a view to facilitating Afghanistan's transit trade".

"At the special request of the Government of Afghanistan and with a view to facilitating Afghanistan's transit trade, Pakistan has decided to resume Afghan exports through [the] Wagha border crossing from 15 July 2020, after implementing Covid-19 related protocols," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

With this step, it added that Pakistan had fulfilled its commitments under the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).

"Pakistan has restored bilateral trade and Afghan transit trade at all border crossing terminals to pre-Covid-19 status," it added.

The Foreign Office further stated that Pakistan remained fully committed to further strengthening its bilateral relations with Afghanistan in all areas including trade, and to facilitate Afghanistan's transit trade under the APTTA.

Pakistan had closed all the borders with the neighbouring countries in March this year with a view to contain coronavirus from further outbreak in the country.

Last month, Pakistan reopened three major border crossings, Torkham, Chaman and Ghulam Khan, at the request of Kabul to ease transit and bilateral trade activities, which were earlier closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To enhance bilateral trade with Afghanistan, Pakistan reopened two more border crossings, Kharlachi and Angor Adda, on July 12.

In an online conference on "Pakistan-Afghanistan Bilateral Trade-Private Sector Perspectives, Strategy and Recommendations", organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on July 8th, 2020, the private sector representatives from Pakistan and Afghanistan had expressed concerns over unscheduled closures of border crossing points, slow clearing processes, lack of facilities at the Torkham border, and increasing transport costs.

The participants that included the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Chaman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as a number of Afghanistan chambers of commerce and a variety of logistics service providers, transport operators, and traders from both countries, also supported the creation of a core team of representatives to plan subsequent coordination efforts with the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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