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Afghan transit trade via Pakistan’s Gwadar port begins

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2020)

Transit trade to Afghanistan through Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar seaport began on Sunday with a consignment of bulk cargo from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Anadolu Agency reported.

“The first transit consignment of bulk cargo through Gwadar to Afghanistan started today. Several consignments are lined up for coming days,” said Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan, on Twitter.

“We have crossed another milestone towards establishing our credentials as a transit city,” he added.

The ship carrying trade goods for Afghanistan anchored at the port, after which the goods were transported to Afghanistan after customs clearance, local broadcaster Geo News reported.

With its 600-kilometer coastline, Gwadar is a key deep seaport currently operated by China, which seeks to gain direct access to the Indian Ocean via Gwadar in line with its $64 billion Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

The economic corridor is hoped to provide China cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East and also earn Pakistan billions of dollars to provide transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.

On July 13, Islamabad reopened a key border crossing to resume exports from Afghanistan to India under the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). Anadolu Agency reported.

The 2010 bilateral trade agreement provides Afghan traders access to the eastern Wagah border with India, where Afghan goods are offloaded onto Indian trucks.

The agreement, however, does not permit Indian goods to be loaded onto trucks for transit back to Afghanistan.

Last month, Pakistan also reopened three key trade routes – the southwestern Chaman, northwestern Torkham, and Ghulam Khan border crossings – for transit trade and exports to Afghanistan.

 

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Imran Khan says peace in Afghanistan would boost regional trade

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan says that peace and stability in Afghanistan would be beneficial for the entire region as it would enhance economic opportunities.

In a meeting with Nisar Ahmed Faizi Ghoryani, Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce, on Thursday Khan stated: “Peace in Afghanistan would be beneficial for the entire region by enhancing regional connectivity and providing new opportunities for economic cooperation.”

The Pakistani prime minister noted that Pakistan and Afghanistan have untapped economic synergy and opportunities, which he said could only be realized through cooperation in the economic and trade sphere.

Khan also reiterated Pakistan’s consistent support to peace and stability in Afghanistan and emphasized the need for a negotiated political settlement.

Meanwhile, Ghoryani thanked Pakistan for its role in facilitating the Afghan peace process and its “desire for enhanced economic and trade ties between the two countries.”

Ghoryani, who traveled to Islamabad to attend the Pakistan-Afghanistan 2020 Trade and Investment Forum, has met with the country’s high-ranking officials and discussed transit issues and expansion of trade between the two countries this week.

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No relief yet for Pakistan as FATF keeps it on global grey list

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday announced it would keep Pakistan on the grey list until at least February next year.

Speaking at a virtual press conference in Paris on Friday the anti-money laundering/terror financing watchdog’s president Marcus Pleyer said there were still conditions Pakistan needs to comply with before they can be removed from the grey list. 

“Pakistan must comply with the remaining six items, then the FATF will send its onsite team to verify progress on the ground. After completion of this process, the FATF will consider Pakistan to be excluded from the list of jurisdictions with increased risk of terror financing that is called the grey list.”

Pleyer said although Pakistan has made progress in terms of carrying out reforms and implemented measures such as imposing sanctions against those financing terrorism, more still needed to be done. 

The FATF plenary removed Iceland and Magnolia from the grey list. North Korea and Iran will remain on the blacklist.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said on Twitter: “FATF acknowledges that any blacklisting is off the table now. Pak has achieved impressive progress on its FATF action plan. 21 out of 27 action items now stand cleared. Remaining 6 rated as partially complete. Within a year, we progressed from 5/27 to 21/27 completed items.”

According to a statement issued by FATF Pakistan’s continued political commitment has led to progress in a number of areas including taking action to identify and sanction illegal MVTS, implementing cross-border currency and controls, improving international cooperation in terrorist financing cases and applying sanctions where necessary, among others.

The statement noted that Pakistan should continue to work on implementing its action plan to address its strategic deficiencies.

One area FATF said Pakistan needs to work on is to demonstrate effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all 1,267 and 1,373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf.

However, the FATF said it “takes note of the significant progress made on a number of action plan items. To date, Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of the 27 action items. As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021.”

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Pakistan parliament to host trade and investment forum for Afghans

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2020)

Pakistan’s National Assembly will host a Pakistan-Afghanistan trade and economic forum next week to enhance bilateral relations and find ways to overcome transit and trade challenges. 

The two-day seminar in Islamabad will include a 17-member Afghan parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) and representatives from Afghanistan’s trade and investment community. 

Pakistan’s The News reported delegates attending from Pakistan will include political leaders, academics, investors, and traders.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the opening ceremony of the conference on October 26 and a video message from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will be telecast during the event.

The seminar is being viewed as a positive sign of change and a way to overcome issues faced by traders and investors in both countries and will also open new avenues of political and parliamentary cooperation and coordination between the two countries. 

 

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