ISLAMABAD: A commerce ministry delegation is scheduled to reach Kabul on Monday for talks to remove obstacles in the transit and bilateral trade, Dawn.com reported.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch confirmed that the Pakistani delegation, headed by Commerce Secretary Khurram Agha, will undertake the two-day visit.

Abdul Salam Jawad, spokesman for the Afghan Commerce Ministry, said: “We will take up the issue of a ban on several transit items. Pakistan has banned the import of certain items under the transit agreement.”

The talks will be held amid efforts by both sides to normalise relations following Pakistani airstrikes in two Afghan provinces on March 18.

Afghan charge d’affaires Sardar Shakib Ahmad rushed to Kabul to brief officials about his meetings in Islamabad. He met acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and briefed him regarding recent developments in the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a deputy foreign ministry spokesman, Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takkal, said.

‘10 per cent hike in import duty’

Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (PAJCCI) Khan Jan Alkozai mentioned a 10 per cent hike in import duty on Afghan transit trade introduced in October last year.

“More problems for Afghan importers were created during the caretaker government in Pakistan,” Mr Alkozai told Dawn.com from Kabul.

He said transit via Pakistan has decreased and Afghan importers moved their business to ports in Iran.

PAJCCI Coordinator Ziaul Haq Sarhadi recalled that in October the Ministry of Commerce, through issuing SRO 1380, imposed a ban on 14 items of Afghan Transit Trade which in a larger context constitute around 212 items, besides the enforcement of 100 pc bank guarantee.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2024

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