Changes in transit deal affect Afghan traders
Afghan traders import goods, costing millions of dollars, through the Karachi port in the neighbouring country. Kabul revised a 1965 transit deal with Islamabad in 2010 to provide facilities for the entrepreneurs.
Although amendments to the agreement are yet to be implemented, they are affecting the traders. As a result, they have to wait for weeks for goods' clearance and pay inordinately high demurrage, said an Afghan trader.
Attiqullah added: "Eight days back, I imported 11 chicken containers, whose documents are still being processed. I have to pay space rent at the port, where the meat can go rotten."
In such conditions, the transportation cost goes up, which eventually leads to a price hike, complained another trader, Abdul Rahim.
Before the signing of the deal, 300-400 truckloads of merchandise would be imported daily to Afghanistan through Torkham and Cham dry ports, according to businessman Tariq Gul.
However, the number has now come down to 70-80 trucks due to procedural complications. Pakistan's Federal Bureau of Revenue customs department created problems for them, he alleged.
They had held several meetings with FBR officials in an effort to resolve the problems, said Afghan trade attaché in Karachi, Ajeer Khan Zaheer. "We are hopeful several cargo containers will be released today."
Fifty percent of the imported 6,000 tonnes of wheat had been trucked to Afghanistan, he explained. A finance ministry team from Kabul had held fruitful talks with Pakistan officials on the subject, he concluded.
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