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December 29, 2020

Afghan Transit Trade accord to be signed in January

National

December 29, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said that the fresh Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) agreement would be signed by the end of next month (January 2021) in Kabul. Pakistan and Afghanistan would also ink Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) in order to boost bilateral trade.

Pakistan also flatly refused to allow access to India through Wagah border, arguing that transit trade was meant for bilateral agreement that could not discuss any trilateral issues at this forum.

Top official sources said that Afghanistan raised the issue of Indian access through Wagah border three months back but Islamabad had plainly refused to accommodate this demand. “Afghanistan did not raise this issue again to get access to India through Wagah border” said the official sources. “We hope that the revised ATTA would be signed by the end of next month when Pakistani team would be visiting Kabul. This three days deliberation would not consider granting access to India” Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said, while talking to reporters after inaugurating three days talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan to finalise Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) here on Monday.

Both sides on Monday kick-started 8th session of APTTA Coordination Authority deliberations for finalising transit arrangement. Abdul Razak ruled out extending any warning to Afghanistan for eradicating smuggling and said that both sides held talks in congenial atmosphere and he had failed to understand why unwarranted and incorrect stories were telecasted.

However, he stated in a tweet that smuggling has caused great harm to our economy by causing loss of revenue and hurting the domestic industry. It is also a hurdle in full realisation of FDI from coming into the country.

High tariffs also provide an incentive to smuggle. Over the past few months, MOC has rationalised tariff on a number of tariff lines. This, together with the measures taken by the Pakistan Customs, has greatly reduced smuggling as data shows that Imports of smuggling prone goods under ATT fallen considerably during July-Nov 2020. “I want to congratulate Pakistan Customs & other agencies for playing a proactive part in reducing the smuggling” he added.

Afghanistan’s trade minister said that both countries must separate politics with trade and commercial ties. He said that Afghanistan wanted to give Pakistan market access to Central Asian Republics (CARs). “We have resolved many issues for reaching an agreement on transit agreement but there are still some pending outstanding issues” he maintained.

He said that the trade agreements would help to restore peace and tranquility in the region. Both the countries could establish joint interest points through trade negotiations, he added.