Pak-Afghan trade agreement extends after failing to complete discussion

Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a protocol for a three-month extension of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement 2010 (APTTA) for the smooth functioning of transit trade between both sides. The signing ceremony was held over video-link today, simultaneously at Kabul and Islamabad.

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Pakistan and Afghanistan have extended the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement 2010 (APTTA) for three more months, after failing to complete discussion and deliberation on the agreement despite its expiry a month ago.

In this regard, an additional protocol to the agreement was signed by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce & Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, and Minister of Industry and Commerce of Afghanistan in a ceremony held over a video link on Thursday. Additionally, representatives of both embassies were present as well.

The agreement signed in 2010 had expired in February this year was to serve the purpose of making it easier to move goods between neighbors.

The agreement in 2010 was a replacement of a 1965 outdated agreement, allowing greater bilateral relations.

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The decision to extend the agreement is aimed at preventing any disruption in trade and transit affairs between the two countries whereas the extension would buy time for the two countries to further discuss the proposed amendments in the agreement.

According to Dawood, his vision for trade and economic relations with Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) like Uzbekistan is to make Pakistan a hub for trade, transit and Uzbekistan was laying its foundation.

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

He said that 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 added.

Both sides expressed satisfaction with the extension of the agreement and decided that technical teams of the two countries will conclude the revised agreement soon.

On the other hand, in a meeting with Afghan Ambassador Najeebullah Ali Khel, Speaker of National Assembly Asad Qaiser said that peace in Afghanistan was imperative for regional economic development and connectivity.

During the meeting, Pak-Afghan relations and the political situation in the region and issues of mutual interest also came under discussion.

It is pertinent to mention here that Afghanistan’s free trade to India via Pakistan and Pakistan’s cargo transit to Central Asia through Afghanistan was one of the five major issues that need to be revised in the APTTA; however, neither of the two countries have come up with an agreement on the amended issues after months of discussions.

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On the other hand, Afghanistan’s private sector continues to raise its concerns about the closure of trade and transit routes by Pakistan in the last 10 years.