ISLAMABAD: The Commerce Ministry has started finalisation of proposals and recommendations for trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-Tajikistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).
The recommendations will be presented in the fifth meeting of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination authority (APTTCA) to be held on 2-3 January 2015 in Islamabad.
At the fourth meeting in Kabul last year, all sides expressed the resolve to intensify efforts to enhance bilateral trade and facilitate the traders and businessmen of the two neighbouring countries.
In 2011, APTTCA was formed and both Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed that chairpersonship of the authority would be held by both the countries simultaneously.
Pakistan nominated secretary commerce, while Afghanistan nominated the deputy minister of commerce and industries while business communities of both countries were also given representation. Then it was decided that APTTCA would meet every six months on a rotational basis in Afghanistan and Pakistan and all meeting-related expenses would be borne by the host country.
A source said that all three countries were keen to sign APTTTA for the sake of regional trade which was being marooned due to some flaws and deficiencies in the APTTA which came into force between Afghanistan and Pakistan on June 12, 2010 and allows Afghan trucks to carry Afghan products to the huge markets of India and China as well as the rest of the world through the seaports of Karachi, Port Qasim and Gwadar.
The source said that upcoming APTTCA meeting would very important because it would finalize the details of the APTTA and invitation to Tajikistan sent for this meeting for trilateral trade ties besides the fact that all three governments were keen to facilitate transit trade.
“Both Pakistan and Afghanistan need transit trade agreement to export their goods to other countries” the source said adding that it was not possible without overcoming issues related to APTTA like lack of facilities for goods trucks, unavailability of Web Based One Customs network, non linkages or working relations between insurance companies as well as difference of weight (tonnage) and absence of Web Based One Customs
“It the APTTA is implemented with true letter and spirit, bilateral as well as trilateral trade volume can be increased by many times,” the source said, adding that during the recent visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani both sides agreed to facilitate goods trucks and to clear containers in maximum two days.
The fourth meeting decided to launch Electronic Data Inter-change (EDI), pilot project at Torkham from November 2013 to implement EDI and its utilisation for release of financial guarantee.