PESHAWAR: Transportation of Indian goods to Afghanistan through the Wagah border will be a violation of the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA), which is a bilateral pact and does not include a third party, as it would harm local industries in Pakistan.
“We are against such use of ATT as it would harm our economy,” Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry acting president Shahid Hussain said while presiding over a joint meeting of traders’ bodies to discuss the proposed amendments in the ATTA. The meeting was held under the auspices of Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) in Peshawar on Wednesday.
He said that the proposal to allow Afghanistan to import goods from India via Wagah-Attari border was contradictory to the Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement and against the interest of local industries, which could create serious problems for Pakistani products in market.
He referred to the WTO rules and said that the proposal was not workable.
Those who shared their views on this occasion included SCCI vice-president Abdul Jalil Jan, PAJCCI senior vice-president Khalid Shehzad, secretary general Ms Faiza, its former SVP Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, director joint chamber Numanul Haq, Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ms Rukhsana Nadir, director Khyber chamber Jawad Hussain, honorary consul general of Tajikistan Said Mehmood, Syed Ali Hammad, Syed M Zubair, Tufail Gurwara, Farooq Ahmad, Imtiaz Ahmad Ali, Ammar Ansari and Gul Rehman.
SCCI says it will violate ATTA, harm local industries
Shahid Hussain said that if Afghanistan was allowed to import goods from India via Wagah border the Pakistani products would not remain as competitive in market that would ultimately damage the local industries and trigger joblessness. He said that the proposal was unacceptable keeping in view the interest of local businesses.
Besides, the SCCI chief demanded of the government to allow transportation of loose cargo to boost Pak-Afghan transit trade. Expressing concerns over imposition of axle load regime by the government, he said that the business community was faced with financial losses due to its enforcement and demanded immediate withdrawal of the regime.
He urged the government and the State Bank of Pakistan to clear rebate of business community under security and demurrage head and called for making the system simple to save exporters from financial losses.
Mr Hussain expressed concerns over 100 per cent checking of goods cargo instead of five per cent by the customs department staff, saying the traders were facing huge financial losses due to loading, unloading and repacking as a result of the security checking and demurrage as well.
The SCCI chief urged the government to take practical steps for eliminating collection of illegal taxes at different checkpoints on main highways in the country.
Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2020