Government forced to backtrack: Commerce ministry issues clarification

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Weekly Updates - Traders' Diary

ISLAMABAD  : Yielding to countrywide protests over allowing India-Afghanistan trade via Wahgah as part of new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), the government on Tuesday clarified that APTTA has not yet been signed between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In addition to a large number of trade bodies and other stakeholders, Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies had expressed their reservations on the two-way trade between
India and Afghanistan through land route. We are against any export of Indian commodities to Afghanistan through Pakistan as it will have serious implications on our security as well as the economy of the country, well placed defence sources told Business Recorder on Tuesday.They said that the Army was taken into confidence before Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) was inked, but some reservations over import of Indian goods by Afghanistan through land route still remained. Before giving a final nod to the APTTA by Ministry of Commerce, the GHQ was fully informed about the pros and cons of the agreement, officials of Ministry of Commerce claimed. They said that goods to be transported under this agreement need to be scrutinised thoroughly before they are allowed to pass through Pakistani territory.ISI sources, when contacted, refused to comment without first reviewing the details of the minutes that were signed by the ministers of the two countries. The Foreign Office, during the process of finalisation of the APTTA, sent a letter to Ministry of Commerce saying that the intelligence agencies of Pakistan have some serious concerns over the agreement. The letter noted that the intelligence agencies have informed the Foreign Office about their reservations on the agreement.

APP adds: Commerce Ministry on Tuesday clarified news reports regarding the draft Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) and termed them baseless and contrary to the facts. A press release issued here on Tuesday said: The Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement has not yet been signed between the two countries.

A ministerial level meeting was held between the Commerce and Finance Ministers of Afghanistan and
Pakistan on July 17. The ministerial meeting resolved certain outstanding issues. The record note of the meeting was signed at the Prime Minister Secretariat on July 18. The Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement would be drafted in due course and signed by both sides after completing the respective procedural and legal formalities, the press release stressed.

Regarding Indian exports to
Afghanistan, the ministry clarified that Indian exports to Afghanistan are being transited through Karachi Sea Port since 1965. No Indian exports to Afghanistan will be allowed through Wagah. Afghan trucks would use designated routes and remain only on Pakistani side of the Wagah border to unload their export cargo for India.

Empty Indian trucks will be allowed to cross Wagah border and come on Pakistani side where Afghan cargo will be transferred to Indian trucks inside Pakistani territory, the press release added. Empty Afghan trucks on return from Wagah can carry only Pakistani exports to
Afghanistan on designated routes.


Courtesy: Business Recorder

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