Federal government proposes to regulate Afghan transit trade under quota system

KARACHI: Federal government has proposed to set a quota for Afgan transit trade in order to regulate the transit trade and promote business between the two countries.

As the Transit Trade Agreement signed in December 2010 with Afghanistan is expiring next year, Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce is drafting a new agreement primarily aimed at safeguarding Pakistan’s interest.

Government is working on various proposals to introduce amendments in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) to control the pilferages in movement of goods to Afghanistan.

A meeting chaired by PM’s Principal Secretary considered various proposals and decided to make Afghan Transit Trade quota based. Recommendations in this regard have been forwarded to Chief Secretary and IG KP. Moreover, recommendations regarding quota based transit trade with Aghanistan have also been forwarded to Ministry of Commerce, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and NLC.

Director Karachi Zeba Azhar and Additional Director Rehmatullah Vistro, on the instructions of then Director General Transit Trade Sarfaraz Warraich, conducted a lot of research and came up with proposals to make transit trade more efficient.

Sources said according to a proposal under consideration, the imports by Afghan importers under Transit Trade agreement would be quota based. The Afghan government would provide their estimated requirements of importable goods and these numbers would be verified by Pakistan consulate in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s foreign policy is changing, particularly in respect of Afghanistan government. Since, Afghan government favors India; Pakistan is taking measures to safeguard its interest. Afghan Transit Trade has been very harmful for Pakistan’s economy being the primary source of smuggling, and the money made from this dirty business funded terrorists and anti-social elements.

It is a known fact that Afghan imports multiply whenever Pakistan Customs take any action against mis-declaration and increases import values or slaps duties on local imports. These additional imports by Afghan importers are either pilfered during transit or smuggled back into country causing huge economic loss to Pakistan.

Ministry of Commerce has issued instructions to Pakistan Customs for preparing the draft of the new agreement. Work is underway. Directorate of Transit Trade is preparing a proposal regarding the transit routes, examination, check posts, and other Customs related issues. Ministry of Commerce will finalize the proposed agreement.

Under the existing agreement, there are only two items in the negative list — cigarettes and auto parts. “We have proposed several items to be included in that list,” the source said. The items placed under the negative list will not be allowed for import under the agreement.

According to the old Afghanistan transit trade agreement; there was allocation of quota for import of smuggling-prone items under the treaty. With the implementation of the revised pact, Pakistani government has done away with this condition.

It was also known that in the new agreement which will be implemented next year, Pakistan will seek transit access to Central Asian states. Presently, Pakistan allows transit access to Afghan exports to India through Wagah border. In return, Afghanistan will provide transit route to Pakistani products to Central Asian states.

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