Print Print 2022-11-22

Trade ties, CARs connectivity: High-powered delegation to be sent

  • 11th session of Pak-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) is also expected to be held shortly in Kabul
Published November 22, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is to despatch a high-powered delegation to Afghanistan to discuss and further deepen bilateral economic and trade relations and connectivity with Central Asian Republics (CARs), official sources told Business Recorder.

In this regard, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has approved a high-powered delegation for Afghanistan, comprising Minister for Finance, Senator Ishaq Dar(head of delegation), Minister for Economic Affairs, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Minister for Power, Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Dr Musadik Malik, Advisor to Prime Minister on Establishment, Ahad Khan Cheema, Secretary Communications and Secretary Commerce.

The Minister for Finance and Revenue has been authorised to co-opt any other head or agency or department if need be.

The Finance Ministry, sources said, has requested all the concerned Ministries/Divisions to share working papers including update on existing areas/level of economic and trade cooperation and future expansion plans thereof, as early as possible so that the agenda of proposed talks should be finalized and conveyed to the Afghan side.

The sources said 11th session of Pak-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) is also expected to be held shortly in Kabul. Ministry of Economic Affairs, has asked concerned Ministries to furnish the following on priority, enabling the Ministry to finalize the agenda: (i) update on the decisions arrived at AICC;(ii) latest implementation status of 10th session of JEC; (iii) fresh proposals, if any; and (iv) nominate and share credentials of a focal person for coordination purposes.

Pakistan calls for reviving Afghan economy on priority basis

Pakistan has extended Afghanistan effectivity of Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) a few times on interim basis as both sides have not yet evolved consensus on a couple of issues. The last extension in APTTA is about to end.

The main disagreement, sources said, between Pakistan and Afghanistan was on the wording of one clause of the proposed APTTA. Afghanistan is insisting that new APTTA will be signed under the law and framework of World Trade Organization (WTO) which construes free movement of goods including from India through land route. This condition is not acceptable to Pakistan.

Former Advisor to Prime Minister, Abdul Razak Dawood also undertook a couple of visits to Afghanistan to evolve consensus on the draft of new APTTA and proposed Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) but failed to achieve desired results in the talks.

Pakistan was bound by international obligations, including United Nations convention of Land Locked states 1965 and United Nations convention on Law of sea 1992 for provision of passage to land locked states.

Afghanistan being a landlocked country was also entitled for passage of transit cargo. Besides, this passage through Afghanistan was also meant to facilitate trade and transit to and from the doubly land locked central Asian states. Historically, Pakistan had always provided access to Afghan transit cargo. Before APTTA 2010, access was under ATTA 1965. Moreover, stoppage of transit goods access may result in humanitarian crisis and inflow of refugees.

Moreover, APTTA 2010 did not cover multimodal bonded air to land transit as per Article 4. However, the Commerce Ministry and the FBR maintained that such transit initially from Islamabad Airport would not only ease provision of urgently needed support for Afghanistan but will also generate goodwill for Pakistan in the international community.

The Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement, of 1965, allowed Afghan trucks to pass through Border Crossing Points (BCPs) on the basis of Road Permits. This mechanism was replaced with Temporary Admission Document in April 2010, but was never implemented. However, Afghanistan and Pakistan allowed passage to each other’s trucks from 2011-2016.

The Afghan Government stopped Pakistani trucks carrying export goods for central Asian Republics at Jalalabad and Spin Boldak, from October 2017 through a presidential decree. As a result, Pakistan also stopped Afghan trucks from moving beyond Peshawar and Chaman.

Afghan trucks were allowed movement within Pakistan and similar access was given to Pakistan trucks within Afghanistan and to CARs under April 2010 APTTA. Same arrangement had been agreed by both sides during negotiations to finalize April 2021 APTTA with easier modalities, which was also extremely crucial for TIR operations from Pakistan. Multiple times offloading of goods increased the cost & time of transportation and damaged goods, especially perishables.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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