PESHAWAR: Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to take several measures for promoting trade and commercial ties that include the quick clearance of commodities and launch of a luxury bus service by the end of August.

A joint statement issued at the end of three-day talks between senior officials of the two counties in Kabul on Thursday said that both sides would continue all-out efforts to remove problems through mutual cooperation and coordination.

The Pakistani side assured the Afghan officials that there was no restriction in place on exports from Afghanistan to India via Wahga border.

The Pakistani delegation was led by commerce secretary Mohammad Sualeh Ahmad Faruqui and comprised senior officials of different ministries and businessmen.

Luxury bus service will also be launched as bilateral talks conclude in Kabul

Afghan minister for trade and industry Nooruddin Azizi and acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi led their country’s delegation during talks, which began on July 18. The two sides discussed issues related to bilateral trade.

The statement said both sides focused on improving bilateral trade, transit, and accessibility as well as to take necessary steps to facilitate trade and resolve problems being faced by the importers, exporters, merchants and entrepreneurs on both sides.

The Pakistani delegation reiterated that Islamabad would strictly implement the Afghanistan and Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, which was signed in 2010.

The agreement had expired in Oct 2017 prompting the then Afghan president, Dr Ashraf Ghani, to ban the entry of Pakistani vehicles to Afghanistan through a decree. The agreement was extended from time to time in the past.

The joint statement said that during the current financial year, bilateral trade and transit had registered a growth, and this momentum needed to be sustained and further strengthened on mutually a beneficial basis. It was decided to make border crossing points more efficient, to ensure the early clearance of trade and transit traffic, by addressing the bottlenecks and implement solutions on a priority basis.

The two sides agreed to implement the temporary admission documents allowing the free movement of bilateral trade vehicles and preventing the loading and unloading of goods at the border crossing points with the view to a further increase between the two countries.

The relevant authorities of the two countries also agreed to increase operational timings at all crossing points, particularly Torkham, Kharlachi, Ghulam Khan and Chaman/Spin Boldak.

Similarly, it was decided that the heads of the customs departments of the countries would agree to work together, and evolve a mutually connected custom procedures and systems to improve efficiency in the clearance of goods.

The delegations also agreed to take steps for starting a luxury bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad, and Quetta and Kandahar.

The service would likely resume by the end of August. Difficulties in the processing of visas would be addressed through mutual coordination.

APP adds: An Afghan business delegation led by co-chairman of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry Khan Jan Alkozai reached Torkham on Thursday to participate in a roundtable of the stakeholders of Pak-Afghan trade.

The visitors, including the PAJCCI members, senior business leaders of Nangarhar and Kunar chambers of commerce and industry, were received by vice-president of the chamber Zia Sarhadi and and other members.

PAJCCI chairman Zubair Motiwala welcomed the delegation and said such visits would strengthen relations between the two countries.

He said the PAJCCI would continue bringing diversified business leaders and the government entities together in fluid environment to come up with an effective and efficient business model complimenting needs of both countries.

The delegation will attend the PAJCCI meetings in Torkham and Swat and meet Pakistani business leaders from the province and senior government officials from National Logistics Cell, Pakistan Customs, Transit Trade, commerce ministry, KP Board of Investment and Trade, State Bank of Pakistan, National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2022

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