Pak-Afghan traders hail extension in ATTA for next three months

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR Traders hailing from Pakistan and Afghanistan welcomed the extension in Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) for the next three months and urged Islamabad and Kabul to reconstitute a new ATTA agreement in proper consultation with the business community on both sides of the border and relevant stakeholders without any further delay.

They called for the number of scanners at Torkham border and other trade routes to be increased at optimal level, besides to simplify rules and regulations for carrying out smooth bilateral trade and transit trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Pak-Afghan traders termed the promotion of bilateral trade and transit trade is beneficial and in the best interest of the both neighbouring countries, which would bring economic, social prosperity and development in the whole region.

This is crux of a meeting that was held between a ‘high-powered’ traders’ delegation from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which led by Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) former senior vice president and renowned exporter, Shahid Hussain and Chairman, Pak-Afghan Joint Chambers of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) Afghanistan Chapter and Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) Afghanistan vice chairman Haji Khanjan Alkozai in Kabul, according to a press release issued here on Friday.

Engineer Kamal Safi, a member of the Afghan parliament from Kunduz, a leading industrialist and leader, Abdul Jabbar Safi, Ahmad Zai Azami, Pak-Afghan exporters and importers were present in the meeting.

Participants of the meeting pointed out ‘hiccups’ and ‘irritants’ in smooth bilateral trade and transit trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan and rest of the central Asian republic countries, emphasizing the need for measures at governmental level to address them amicably.

The movement of the number of vehicles, loaded with bilateral and transit trade goods to Afghanistan and onwards crossing through Ghulam Khan Trade route is very less, which has caused pilling up trucks of goods consignment at Torkham that was a major hindrance in smooth trade between the two neighbouring countries, the participants noticed.

Traders on both sides of the border sought easiness in Afghan transit trade and clearance system at Karachi seaport. They emphasized on allowing maximum movement of Afghan transit trade vehicles through Ghulam Khan border to give a boost to Pak-Afghan trade.

Despite the reservations of Pak-Afghan business community on the previous agreement of ATTA, signed early in 2011, the participants said the transit trade pact was implemented, after which it was witnessing a significant drop in trade volume between two countries instead of any improvement.

The traders urged the new ATTA agreement should be signed in proper consultation with the business community and relevant stakeholders for carrying out smooth trade between the neighbouring two countries.

The speakers hailed the government of Pakistan for bringing reduction in custom duties on more than 51 exporting items to Afghanistan. However, they called upon the Afghan government to reduce duties and taxes on 16 Afghan items on a reciprocal basis.

Economy would be improved by carrying out smooth trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan that will also help to generate employment opportunities, the participants said, therefore, they called upon Islamabad and Kabul to take pragmatic steps to remove irritants in the way of smooth trade.