Afghanistan and Pakistan on Thursday extended the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) for another six months, said Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Pakistan ambassador to Kabul.
According to the Pakistan envoy, the agreement was signed by Pakistan Commerce Minister Razzak Dawood and the Afghan Minister of Commerce and Industry Nisar Ghoriani.
“The two Ministers appreciated the increase in trade and exports from both sides. They lauded the excellent work of technical teams noting significant progress in negotiations on the new APTTA. Pakistan side welcomed Afghanistan’s offer to host the 9th APTTCA in Kabul in August,” tweeted Khan.
Khan added that “Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Abdul Razzak Dawood conveyed that he will lead Pakistan delegation to Kabul along with a large delegation of business persons and investors” in order for them to network with their Afghan counterparts on the sidelines of 9th APTTA meeting.
In February, Pakistan approved a three-month extension in its transit trade agreement with Afghanistan.
The arrangement allows Afghanistan access to Pakistani seaports, as well as land routes, to conduct international trade and export Afghan goods to India, Pakistan’s arch-rival. In return, Islamabad gets access through Afghanistan to markets in Central Asian states.
The Pakistani Commerce Ministry told Cabinet members in February that more than 832,000 containers of Afghan transit trade, carrying goods worth $33 billion, had passed through Pakistan during the last 10 years.
It is estimated that 30% of Afghan Transit Trade passes through Pakistan, the ministry noted at the time.
The APTTA was concluded in 2010 after years of effort, with the United States playing the facilitating role at the time, and replaced an outdated agreement dating from 1965.
Afghan carpet industry facing major challenges: ACCI
Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) said on Sunday that the Afghan carpet industry is facing numerous challenges despite the foreign aid that has been injected into the industry.
The ACCI said that the lack of a dedicated industrial park and a suitable place to produce carpets are a key challenge that they face.
Carpet makers also said that the drop in exports of Afghan carpets is a major problem.
Abdul Jabar Safi, head of the craftsmen association said despite millions of dollars having been spent and funding from USAID being received no dedicated industrial parks have been established in Andkhoy and Jalalabad – both carpet making hubs.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry meanwhile said efforts are being made to resume the traditional craft of carpet making in order to preserve the Afghan carpet industry’s uniqueness.
The ministry said that they have assisted carpet producers recently.
“It (new carpet industry) undermines the credibility of Afghan carpets. One good point of the Afghan carpet sector is that it provides 100,000 jobs for people especially for women,” said Fawad Ahmadi, spokesman for the ministry.
Analysts say that the carpet production industry will come to an end if government does not address the carpet producers’ challenges.
US, Afghanistan, Pakistan Uzbekistan form platform for regional cooperation
The United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan have agreed in principle to form a new diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity, the US State Department said on Friday.
“The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing,” the Department said in a statement.
“Recognizing the historic opportunity to open flourishing interregional trade routes, the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties,” the statement read.
The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus, the US said.
Border crossings seized by Taliban impact customs revenue
The Afghan government said Saturday that the fall of key dry ports has disrupted exports and imports, imposing negative impacts on the country’s economic activities.
The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) stated that the Taliban militants have captured seven key dry ports – the Islam Qala border and the Torghundi border towns, two trade gateways to Iran and Turkmenistan; Abu Nasr Farahi port, bordering with Iran, in Farah; Sher Khan Port in Kunduz and Ay Khanom port in Takhar, two trade gateways to Tajikistan; Aqina port in Faryab, a trade gateway to Turkmenistan; and Dand-e-Patan crossing to Pakistan in Paktia.
Khan Jan Alokozay, Deputy Chairman of ACCI, has raised concerns about the collapse of the ports, stating the traders can not pay taxes to both the government and the Taliban.
“Now, if we pay taxes in two places, it will directly impact the market, and rates will climb up to two hundred times higher than now,” Alokozay said.
Meanwhile, the price of food and raw materials have been increased in markets after the closure of these customs.
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