Pakistan and Afghanistan are engaged in three key areas regarding trade/business, he said. First is transit trade, second is bilateral trade and the third is investment (also include Foreign Direct Investment [FDI]). Both countries have their respective issues in all the above mentioned domains. Decline in domestic trade was observed between the two neighbors recently, due to numerous differences. Pakistani PM Abbasi’s visit to Kabul enabled the environment for mutual cooperation, following which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sent a high-powered delegation which held wide-ranging talks with Pakistani officials in Islamabad. Owing to these meetings, 80% of the issues have been resolved amicably.
The issues included the quarantine certification, imposition of new regulatory duty, delay in transportation, problems in customs valuation, longer clearance time at the port, high demurrage charges, and issues related to transit guarantees in Pakistan.
Moreover, Pakistani trucks were not allowed to go beyond Torkham and Chaman: now the trucks are unrestrainedly allowed to go till Jalalabad or Kandahar etc. Those trucks which would not off-load can go up to Kabul or even up till the other side of the Afghan frontier. Pakistan also had a concern about impediments in having access to Central Asia through Afghanistan for which guarantee was required; the terms of guarantee have been eased presently.
Committees have also been set-up within the formulated working groups between Pakistan and Afghanistan and have been operationalized. Any issue faced by (border) Customs will be taken up within these committees and will be resolved at the earliest. These committees had a meeting in Ramadan (the holy month of fasting in Islam) and will hold monthly meetings from now on, to resolve the customs related issues.
© Copyright Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and Afghan Studies Center (ASC), Islamabad.