Pakistan and Afghanistan moving towards economic integration

Islamabad, April 16, 2015 (PPI-OT): Engineer Khurram Dastagir khan, Minister for Commerce called upon H.E Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan during a trade mission to Kabul. The Minister for Commerce underscored that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif attaches great significance to Pakistan’s economic and trade ties with Afghanistan and envisions an agenda of shared prosperity for the region. The Minister stated that Government of Pakistan has made serious and concerted efforts to address concerns of the business community of Afghanistan on Afghan transit trade.

The Minister apprised that since the visit of president Ghani to Islamabad, Government of Pakistan has implemented the following main decisions to facilitate transit trade. Allowing system based partial shipment of Afghan transit goods instead of manual processing Reduction in scanning of Afghan transit cargo from 100% to 20%.

Afghan trucks have been allowed to carry goods up to Wagah and on their way back, they can carry Pakistani goods for exports to Afghanistan. Pakistan Railways would carry 400 containers of Afghan transit cargo to Torkhem and Chaman per week which shall be made operational later this year.

During his meeting with the Afghan President, the Minister for Commerce sought implementation of the following steps by the Afghan government.

a) Removal of financial guarantees on Pakistani goods in transit to Central Asia which are being charged at 110% of the customs duty.

b) Removal of tonnage fee at rate of $100 per 25 ton on goods which are in transit to Central Asia.

c) Expedite signing of a bilateral treaty to avoid double taxation that would facilitate investment in both countries.

d) Issuance of Afghan multiple entry visas for Pakistan businessmen and skilled workers.

e) Lift of ban on transit of LPG via Afghanistan to Pakistan.

f) Initiation of talks on Preferential Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, providing enhanced market access to Afghan goods in Pakistani market and addressing the issue of smuggling.

The Afghan President promised multiple entry visas for businessmen on reciprocal basis and ensured to address other issues at the earliest. The Minister reiterated that economic cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan has gained momentum during the recent months with enhanced dialogue, high level visits and confidence building measures taken by the respective Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Minister for Commerce led a three person trade mission comprising of Secretary and the deputy secretary of the Ministry of Commerce. During his visit, he held detailed meetings with H.E Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of Afghanistan, H.E Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, National Economic Adviser, H.E Mr. Eklil Ahmad Hakimi, Minister of Finance and Acting Commerce Minister Mr. Muzammil Shinwari.

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Haji Ahmed Malik
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