ISLAMABAD: Early conclusion of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) negotiations would open new avenues of cooperation between the two countries, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser said on Wednesday.

In a meeting with Afghan Minister for Commerce and Industry Haji Nisar Ahmad Faizi Ghoryani – who had called at the Parliament House – Qaiser said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a game changer not only for Pakistan but the entire region. He offered Afghan investors to take part in CPEC-related economic activities, besides investment in Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which will begin operations soon.

Apprising the NA speaker, the Afghan minister said that 80 per cent negotiations on the trade pacts was done. He was confident that the same would be signed soon. The Afghan government is committed to boosting trade cooperation for a long-lasting mutually beneficial relationship, Ghoryani added.

Qaiser urged Ghoryani to remove unnecessary check points inside Afghanistan and ensure that extortion of money from traders by Afghan officials is stopped. The NA speaker also proposed establishment of border entry point for Trade at the Wakhan Border which would open gates to Central Asia.

Ghuryani welcomed the NA speaker’s offer for participation in CPEC and Rashakai SEZ. The Afghan minister said issues raised by Qaiser would be addressed on his return back home.

The visiting minister said Afghanistan was deeply touched by the goodwill gestures of the Pakistan government. He further praised Qaiser for his role in mounting strong linkages for mutually beneficial bilateral trade. Noting that the Trade and Investment Forum Seminar in October this year was a success, he suggested that similar moots be held in Peshawar, Quetta and other provincial capitals of Pakistan.

During the meeting, Qaisar said that promotion of trade and economic linkages between Pakistan and Afghanistan would usher into new era of socio-economic development and fighting the scourges of poverty and instability.

The NA speaker said that early conclusion of trade agreements between Pakistan and Afghanistan would further boost economic activity on both sides.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2020

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