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PESHAWAR: Due to disagreement on some sections of the draft new transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the existing Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA)-2010 has been extended for another period of six months. The Ministry of Commerce has issued a formal notification into this effect.

According to Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi, a former official of Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJJCI), a meeting of the policy group was held last week to review trade and transit related matters between both countries.

APTTA-2010 has been expired in November, was given temporary extension till May 11, but now has been extended for another period of six months.

During meeting, the technical team of the ministries of industries and commerce discussed draft APTTA. Such online meetings were being held between the Ministry of Commerce Islamabad and Ministry of Commerce Kabul on every Monday and Tuesday since last two months.

Around 90 percent work on most of outstanding issues was completed and only 10 percent issues were remained unresolved. He said the extension of existing agreement for another period of six months is not understandable.

Sarhadi, who is also the deputy convener of FPCCI’s standing committee on Afghan Transit Trade reiterated review of APTTA-20-10 in the prevailing situation and said that the lack of signing new transit agreement is a matter of concern for the trading community of both countries.

He said that Afghanistan wants that Pakistan should allow the entry of Afghan truck to India as under the prevailing agreement, trucks loaded with Afghan goods can travel till only Wagha border and these trucks have to return empty.

The principle stance of Pakistan over the issue that the prevailing transit trade agreement between both countries is not tri-lateral rather is bilateral and India is not party in it. Therefore, keeping in view tension between both countries, Pakistan cannot facilitate Afghanistan to promote its bilateral trade through Wagha border. Indian influence in Afghanistan is based on animosity towards Pakistan.

On the other hand, Pakistan also wants trade access to Central Asian States through Afghanistan, but so far no agreement has been in this regard. Pakistan wants development of its trade relations with Afghanistan on solid bases and wants trade with Central Asian States without any hurdle. These two other political reasons are delaying the signing of new agreement between both countries.

Afghan Trade through Pakistan has decline by 50 percent and as compared to $2.5 billion in the recent past has declined to merely $1 billion. He said that resolution of these under the new transit trade agreement can trigger manifold increase in the volume of trade between countries and the number of containers supply can reached to 75000 and bilateral trade could be expanded to $5 billion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021