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Afghan traders retrieve goods from Pakistan

Afghan traders retrieve goods from Pakistan

Jul 11, 2011 - 11:47

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): After a month’s wait, Afghan traders managed to take back export goods that had been stranded at the Pakistani port of Turkham, officials said Sunday.

They took them back to Afghanistaninfo-icon’s Hairatan port for export to European countries.

At least five thousand Afghan trucks loaded with goods remain stranded in the port cities of Karachi, Peshawar, Chaman and other areas, and so far the APTTAinfo-icon has not been implemented, according to Khan Jan Alakozai, deputy chief of the Chamber of Commerce.

He said that Pakistaninfo-icon has not implemented the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), which was signed on June 12, 2011 and supposed to go into effect immediately.

Among other provisions, the APTTA allows Afghan and Pakistani trucks to travel freely between ports in each other’s countries.

He said millions of US dollars’ worth of Afghan exports, including dry fruit, carpets, medicinal plants, and gemstones, had been stranded in Turkham for 26 days.

He said some traders had taken their trucks back to Kabul and will export their goods to Europe.

Each truck is carrying up to 25 tonnes of goods and has been charged about $1,200 in taxes, he said, adding that Pakistan would not allow the trucks to leave the ports, even though each one had been through all the required official procedures.

He said that the traders must now export their goods to Europe across Russia, at an additional expense of $1200 per truck.

Mohammad Hassan, head of the Dry Fruit Export Association, said that eight trucks full of dry fruit had been slated for export from Karachi to Europe, namely London and Holland, but Pakistan had not allowed the trucks to leave port.

He urged the Afghan government to solve the problem for Afghan traders.

He said: "Now we can’t make money. We are afraid of losing the goods. The government must know that it’s not the traders’ own investment; it's all the advance payment of the customers and farmers."    

Muzamel Shenwari, head of the Commerce Ministry’s international trade department, acknowledged the Afghan traders’ problem and said the ministry would find a solution as soon as possible.

According to Commerce Ministry information, the annual volume of trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan is worth $1.5 billion.



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