Afghan trucks to fetch goods from Wahgah: APTTA approved by Cabinet

ISLAMABAD (October 07 2010): The Cabinet on Wednesday approved Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) that would ensure regularisation of $2 billion trade between the two countries, which at present is being carried out irregularly.”Transit trade agreement of 1965 has been reviewed with Afghanistan in the best interest of the country that would increase the volume of trade with neighbouring countries to $2 billion,” said Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira at a news conference here on Wednesday after the meeting.

The minister said as per previous 1965 agreement, Afghan trucks are allowed upto Torkham border, but they are allowed upto Wahgah border under the new agreement. In return, he said Pakistani trucks would be allowed to go through Afghanistan to Central Asia, Iran and Turkey. Replying to questions, the minister said the agreement does not allow Indian exports to Afghanistan through Wagha border or land route.Kaira said the Afghan trucks would not be allowed to carry Indian goods back to their country and the Afghan goods would be transited through Pakistan only through sealed containers along with tracking devices. He said the goods would be re-examined and certified while leaving border at Torkham. The new agreement contains latest custom laws and technical developments that have taken place. The agreement has been prepared after seven extensive rounds of talks and discussions.

The Prime Minister directed the FBR, the Commerce Ministry and the Interior Minister to work in coordination to control smuggling. The Prime Minister directed the concerned organisation to ensure that the transit facilities are not misused by the Afghan importers/exporters. The FBR was directed to review the tariff on goods such as tea and tyres, etc, of which there is likelihood that these would be smuggled back to Pakistan from Afghanistan.The minister said all the stakeholders including the Ministry of Defence and those in private sectors have been taken on board. In order to check smuggling or misuse of the facility, bank guarantee to the tune of custom duty being charged by the Pakistani authorities would be essential for the Afghan importers and exporters. Only 3 percent of Afghan goods will be carried by the Afghan trucks to Wagha and Karachi Port. Under the new agreement, there will be visible improvement viz-a-viz transit trade which will be internationally appreciated and the agreement would ensure regularisation of over $2 billion trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan which at present is being carried out irregularly.

The meeting was informed that 85 percent decisions of the Cabinet have been implemented in the Narcotics Control Board, Board of Investment and the Commerce Division. The meeting also approved the decisions of the ECC and accorded ex post facto approval to a programme being launched by a French Development Agency, Asian Development Bank and government of Pakistan.
The Cabinet approved the decisions taken by Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in its meeting held on September 21, 2010. The Cabinet gave ex post facto approval in principle for signing of financing framework agreement and loan agreement with French Development Agency (AFD) under Multi-Tranche Financial Facility – Pak Energy Efficiency Investment Programme.The agreement envisages three parts, in the first phase 30 million bulbs would be replaced with energy saver at a cost of $65 million. The minister said that in the second and third part of the agreement, generators, powers stations and machinery would be replaced to improve the efficiency. A cabinet committee comprising Minister for Finance, Minister for Law, Minister for Water and Power and Minister of State for Finance has been constituted to further examine and finalise some clauses within a week.

The meeting gave approval for signing of agreement on Economic and Technical Co-operation between Pakistan and the Arab Republic of Egypt. The Cabinet also gave approval to signing of the Framework Arrangement between Pakistan and Korea regarding Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) Loan Assistance of $180 million.The Cabinet approved the proposal for granting autonomous status to Pakistan Housing Authority (PHA). The authority would also cater for the needs of the government servants. The meeting approved in principle the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Statistical Co-operation between government of Islamic Republic of Iran and government of Pakistan. A Cabinet committee comprising Minister for Defence, Minister for Interior and Minister for Law has been constituted to examine some aspects.

The minister said that floodwater has receded 98 percent from Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa, 90 percent Punjab and 14 percent in Sindh. He said the reduction of floodwater has eased the relief efforts and now all the organisations have easy access to the flood victims and flood-hit areas. He said during the floods there was no major disease spread to an alarming limit. The total deaths are 1961, injured 2907 and affected districts are 78. The Railways suffered Rs 53 billion losses, agriculture 247 billion and power sector Rs 13 billion due to floods.He said National Highways Authority, provincial highways, Railways and other departments are engaged to make workable the highways and roads. The minister said people have withdrawn Rs 3 billion under Watan Cards. Punjab distributed 184,831 cards, Sindh 135,981 and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwah 7,159 cards so far. Balochistan did not distribute any card mainly because of its failure to compile the data. He said the amount has been equally contributed by the federal government and provinces – Brecorder