Pakistan reopens Wagah border for Afghan exports

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD:Pakistan has decided to resume Afghan exports through the Wagah border crossing from July 15, 2020, after implementing coronavirus-related protocols.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Monday, this measure was taken under the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), and at the request of the Afghanistan government.

“Pakistan remains fully committed to further strengthening its bilateral relations with Afghanistan in all areas including trade, and to facilitate Afghanistan’s transit trade under APTTA,” read the statement.

Pakistan in May announced the opening of Pak-Afghan border at Torkham and Chaman round the clock for six days a week. It was closed on March 27 as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of Covid-19. However, Afghan exports to India through the Wagah border had remained suspended.

Last month, Afghan traders claimed restrictions on import of fresh fruits and vegetables by Pakistan were causing them huge losses.

According to the Afghan Traders’ Union, exports from Afghanistan, mainly perishable agricultural products, were barred from entering Pakistan amid the coronavirus outbreak since March. Goods from Pakistan, however, continued to be exported to Afghanistan.

Trade body Chairman Omaid Haidari told Anadolu Agency that the restrictions cost Afghan traders losses worth more than $100 million.

He said hundreds of trucks loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables destined for Pakistan and then India remained stranded at the main Chaman and Torkham crossing points for months.

The fresh fruit, vegetable traders blamed Islamabad for taking advantage of the pandemic for one-sided trade benefits only.

The concern was also highlighted by Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry earlier last month, urging for immediate resolution else it “would demolish the Afghan economy significantly” and deepen mistrust between the two countries.

Pakistan has for long only allowed Afghan exports to India through its northeastern Wagah border, but it does not permit exports from India meant for Afghanistan to pass through its territory.

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