ISLAMABAD : Pakistan and Afghanistan are starting the seventh round of talks on the revised transit trade agreement from Friday (July 16) expected to be finalised prior to the visit of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, well-informed sources in Commerce Ministry told Business Recorder.
Both countries were scheduled to hold the seventh round of talks on July 18-19 in Islamabad but the schedule has been revised. The members of the Joint Working Group (JWG) established to deal with Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) and private sector will participate in the meeting.Sources said the Afghan side is not ready to include measures to stop unauthorised trade (smuggling) in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) which, analysts claim, implies that Islamabad has buckled under pressure from Washington.According to sources during the sixth round which was held in Kabul, there was a deadlock over two issues ie smuggling and transit facility to India. Pakistan s industry is urging the government to seek guarantees from Afghan authorities that goods such as black tea, tyres, razors, electronic and engineering will not be cross-bordered to Pakistan.Earlier, a top official of the Commerce Ministry claimed that Pakistan was seeking iron clad guarantees from Kabul over smuggling of imported goods into Pakistani territory and until and unless these guarantees are provided, no pact is expected to be signed; however, now it appears that the GoP is compromising on this issue, commented one of the private sector stakeholders while talking to this correspondent.
It is however, being claimed that it is unlikely that Pakistan will allow trade between India and land-locked Afghanistan through Wagha border despite persistent pressure from Washington. I am sure that Islamabad will not allow Kabul to carry out trade with New Delhi by using Pakistan s transit facility, senior officials said. Pakistan side will be headed by senior joint secretary of commerce ministry, Himayat Ullah Khan. Washington had urged Pakistan to ink the new transit trade agreement with Kabul by November 30, 2009 but that deadline was not met because of Kabul s unwillingness to provide guarantees to ensure that imported goods would not be smuggled back to Pakistan within hours of landing in the Afghan territory.
Courtesy: Business Recorder
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