Islamabad: According to a news report, after failing to complete dialogue and deliberation on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) despite its expiration last month, Pakistan and Afghanistan have extended it for three months.
In this regard, Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Trade and Investment, and Afghanistan’s Minister of Industry and Commerce signed an additional protocol to the agreement via video link on Thursday.
In February of this year, the agreement signed by two neighboring countries in 2010 to boost trade expired.
According to officials familiar with the situation, the decision to prolong the agreement is intended to avoid any disruptions in trade and transit between the two countries, although the extension would give the two countries more time to negotiate the proposed changes to the agreement.
Dawood’s vision for trade and economic ties with Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) is to transform Pakistan into a center for trade, transport, and transhipment, according to him. “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.
He claims that by doing so, Pakistan will be able to take advantage of its geoeconomic position in the region to boost its foreign trade. He continued, “Our discussions with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan are a step in this direction.”
According to reports, progress on the agreement’s technical issues is already underway, and the agreement will be signed in accordance with WTO principles.
It’s worth noting that one of the five major issues in the APTTA that needs to be revised is Afghanistan’s free trade with India via Pakistan, as well as Pakistan’s cargo transit to Central Asia via Afghanistan; however, after months of negotiations, neither country has reached an agreement on the amended issues.
According to data collected by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Directorate General of Transit Trade, a total of 832,819 containers of Afghan transit trade carrying goods worth $33 billion passed through Pakistan over the last decade, accounting for 30% of Afghan transit trade freight, with the remainder passing through Iran, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.