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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan Thursday signed protocol for extension of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) for three months, starting from February 12, 2021.

The formal transit pact between Pakistan and Afghanistan expired on February 11, 2021.

In second week of February 2021, the Cabinet had granted APTTA an extension of three months on the proposal of Commerce Ministry as both sides had failed to evolve consensus on some clauses of the draft.

After the cabinet approval, Commerce Ministry issued instruction to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) asking for facilitation of consignments destined for Afghanistan.

On April 1, 2021, Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce & Investment and Nisar Ahmad Ghoriyani, Minister of Industry & Commerce Afghanistan signed the protocol for three-month extension of APTTA 2010.

The signing ceremony was held on video-link at Kabul and Islamabad. The Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Sualeh Faruqi was also present on the occasion. Representatives of the two embassies in respective capitals also attended the event.

Speaking on the occasion, Dawood said that his vision for trade and economic relations with Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) is to make Pakistan a hub for trade, transit and transshipment.

“Our trade must be based on secure, open, consistent, reliable and legal movement of goods at the Afghan border along with enhanced connectivity with Afghanistan and CARs,” he said.

He said that this is a long-term vision and, through current engagement with Afghanistan & Uzbekistan, Pakistan was laying down the foundation for its implementation. This will ensure that Pakistan leverages its geo-economic location in the region to enhance its international trade.

“Our discussions with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan are a step in this direction” he continued.

According to Commerce Ministry, both sides expressed satisfaction with the extension of the agreement and decided that the technical teams of the two countries will conclude the revised agreement soon.

Both sides have been working together to utilize the agreement optimally, however there are a few impediments to be addressed including lack of harmonization and inadequate communication between custom authorities, return cargo injuring Pakistani industry, high service charges on Pak transit cargo to CARs and stoppage of Pakistani trucks at Jalalabad.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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