Trade goods sent to Pakistan under APTTA
KABUL (PAN): The long-awaited trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan went into effect on Tuesday as a two-truck convoy carrying trade goods from Afghanistan was dispatched to Pakistan on its way to India for the first time under the new agreement, an official said.
The US-sponsored Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) was to be implemented on February 12, but it was delayed because the two governments disagreed on certain issues.
Islamabad sought bank guarantees from Afghan importers, cashable in Pakistan on the transit of goods, to ensure that consignments reaching Afghanistan would not be smuggled back to Pakistan.
Kabul insisted that Pakistan accept financial guarantees given by Afghan banks, an idea rejected by Islamabad because Afghan banks do not have branches in Pakistan.
Kabul also objected to a tax of 0.08 percent recently imposed by Sindh province on the value of every item transiting to Afghanistan.
But those issues have been resolved in recent weeks.
"It is expected that today two Afghan trucks carrying dried fruit and other goods will be allowed to reach the Pakistan-India joint border of Wagah under the accord," the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) deputy chairman, Khan Jan Alokozay, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He said the two-vehicle convoy would symbolically mark the implementation of the historic agreement.
The delay in implementing the pact had left 3,000 Afghan trucks loaded with commercial goods stranded at Pakistan's port city of Karachi for months.
Afghan traders will also start benefitting from the Agreement on the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) later this summer, the ACCI chairman, Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, told reporters in Kabul.
Under the agreement, Afghan traders will be able to export their goods to Asian countries, Haqjo said. Afghan traders would be issued special stickers instead of visas for export of goods to the countries, where they would also receive training.
Afghanistan last year joined other member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in singing the SAFTA agreement.
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