Commerce Ministry’s team led by Prime Minister’s Advisor on Commerce, Textile, Industries and Production and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood and Director General Military Operations on Friday discussed “future” trade (including transit trade) relations with neighboring Afghanistan especially with reference to election of new President in the landlocked country.
Pakistan’s trade relations with Afghanistan have remained strained for the past couple of years as the latter has shown no movement on the draft of Preferential Trade Agreement and Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), which is massively hurting Pakistan’s industry.
However, during the visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Pakistan a few months ago, substantial development was witnessed as Afghanistan showed willingness to proceed on Preferential Trade Agreement and negotiation on new APTTA.
Abdul Razak Dawood was scheduled to leave for Kabul on a two-day visit (September 4-5, 2019) to discuss prospects of Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) and renegotiate Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). However, his visit was scrapped on the suggestion of Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul citing serious law and order situation.
“The Afghan government was ready to receive the delegation but Pakistan’s embassy was not in favour of the visit due to recent violence (bombing) in Kabul,” sourced revealed.
Commerce Division has worked on APTTA in the light of agreements signed by other landlocked countries like Nepal, adding that the issue of Afghan transit trade with India through land route also came under discussion during the recent visit of Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani but he (Dawood) clearly informed him that trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan is a bilateral not a trilateral issue, and requested Afghanistan not to raise it. Pakistan plans to propose that Afghanistan’s tariffs should not be higher than whatever tariff is being charged in Pakistan. Pakistan’s domestic industry has already briefed the government on the negative impact of APTTA.
Issues related to Afghan transit trade and smuggling from Afghanistan also came under discussion in the meeting. The officials of FBR were also present in the meeting.
The sources said the purpose of consultative meeting between the Commerce team and Director General Military Operations was to discuss different ways and means to proceed ahead.
According to sources, Pakistan will now adopt wait-and-see policy till the announcement of the results of the Presidential elections.