Businessmen suggest measures for improving Pak-Afghan trade

Author: APP

Businessmen dealing in Pak-Afghan trade have suggested amendments to the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) 2010 through consultation with the stakeholders.

The suggestions were made during the visit of a delegation of businessmen to the office of Director General Transit Trade, Wajid Ali here at Custom House.

The delegation was led by Coordinator Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI), Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi and comprised of Directors PAJCCI, Imtiaz Ahmad Ali, Khalid Shezad, former SVP Sarhad Chamber, Engr Manzoor Elahi, Central Vice Chairman All Pakistan Custom Agents Association, Farooq Ahmad and Vice President Khyber Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muhammad Haroon.

DG Transit Trade was accompanied by Director Transit Trade, Arbab Qaiser Hameed, Additional Director Transit, Dr. Wajid Ali and Deputy Director Transit, Ms. Maliaka Ahmad.

Speaking on the occasion, Zia Sarhadi said APTTA 2010 has several lacuna as a result of which 70 percent of transit trade has been shifted from Karachi port to Bandar Abbas in Iran.

He also demanded the revival of Goods in Transit to Afghanistan (GITA) service through lost cargo via train between Peshawar to Karachi and from Karachi to Chaman.

For this purpose, he continued, the SRO 121 be repealed for allowing GITA services through containers and loss cargo as well.

The documentation (DG) of all this cargo under GITA should be held under WeBOC at Azhakhel dry port so that custom clearing and forwarding agents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should also benefit from this trade.

Zia Sarhadi said in October 2023, the Ministry of Commerce through issuing SRO 1380 imposed a ban on 14 items of Afghan Transit Trade which in a larger context constitute around 212 items, besides enforcement of a 100 percent bank guarantee.

The cargo goods were already covered under insurance guarantee and all the goods were going safely to Afghanistan for the last 13 years. He demanded the revoking of a 100 percent bank guarantee and the revival of the old insurance guarantee system.

He said instead of the imposition of a ban on transit trade items, concentration should be given to improving monitoring and vigilance on the border to curb smuggling.

Coordinator PAJCCI said hundreds of trucks are illegally bringing different items including petroleum production, and food items from Iran daily which needed to be stopped. The measures taken for imposition of restriction on Pak-Afghan transit trade are hurting commerce in the region, he opined. Zia Sarhadi also shared data on Pak-Afghan trade and mentioned a decline in volume during the last several years, a reduction to 1400 million dollars.

Both the countries, he continued, have set the target of increasing trade volume to dollar five billion which in prevailing circumstances looks impossible.

The delegation members apprised DG Transit Trade that around 40,000 heavy vehicles are lying idle due to a reduction in business and owners are facing losses in millions of rupees. Whereas thousands of companies dealing in custom clearing forwarding and transportation have been closed.

On this occasion, DG Transit held out assurance of giving due consideration to points raised by the business community, and said decisions would be taken with their consultation.

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