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Afghanistan offered use of Gwadar, Port Qasim

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has offered Afghanistan to use Gwadar and Bin Qasim ports for trading activities under the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) while in return it wants access to Central Asian Republics (CARs), official sources confided to The News on Saturday.

The current Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) signed in 1965 allows Afghan cargo movement only through Karachi Port. After that, the cargo is transported to the landlocked country either through Landi Kotal in NWFP or Chaman, Balochistan.

The current ATTA does not contain any provision for transit trade to Central Asian Republics (CARs) through Afghanistan, which is an impediment to Pakistan’s efforts to become a gateway to Central Asia.

Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the US during the recent visit of President Asif Ali Zardari for improving trade and accession facilities between the two sides.

Under the MoU, both sides agreed to conclude and sign a complete Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) as early as possible and no later than December 31, 2009. Afghanistan has submitted a draft of the new agreement with the government of Pakistan.

In view of the MoU, a joint working group met in Islamabad the other day to discuss the advantages of greater regional and global trade linkages and export-oriented business development, an official who attended the meeting told this scribe.

They also discussed trade liberation and facilitation and public outreach on trade-related issues with a goal to improve processes and reduce impediments affecting the trade and investment environment in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the same official said.

The meeting also agreed that the next meeting of the group will be held in Afghanistan in June and date will be communicated with understanding.

They also agreed to coordinate and resolve all the issues relating to cross-border commerce and inland freight transit trade.

Under the expired Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), Islamabad has kept six items in the negative list that include i) cigarettes, and cigarettes of tobacco or of tobacco substitute, ii) cooking oil, iii) automobile parts, iv) television, v) telephone and vi) and tyres and tubes.

Source: The News

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