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Afghan-Pakistan Trade Transit Deal Extended to Tajikistan


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ISLAMABAD (The News International) – Pakistan and Afghanistan on Saturday agreed to extend the Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade Transit Agreement (APTTA) to Tajikistan in what will be the first step for the establishment of a North-South trade corridor.

Before the APTTA was signed, Afghan vehicles could only go to border regions of Pakistan and had to load commodities on Pakistan Army trucks or trains. Afghan businessmen took more than a month to export their goods into Pakistan which caused a lot of damage, especially for fruits and vegetables. This treaty allows also Afghanistan access to a land route to export goods to India but it does not allow India to use the land route to export goods to Afghanistan.

The countries concerned were involved in frenzied efforts for years to set up the corridor. This move would subsequently be extended to other neighbouring Central Asian states including Uzbekistan, Kirghizstan and Turkmenistan after the initiation of the first link. Central Asian states, including Kazakhstan as well as the states with sophisticated rail and motorway links with the Russian federation, would also be considered in the arrangement.

The proposed agreement will provide facilities to Tajikistan to use Pakistan’s Gwadar and Karachi ports for its imports and exports while Pakistan will enjoy trade with Tajikistan under terms similar to the transit arrangement with Afghanistan.

Afghan-Pak Transit Trade Agreement

In July 2010, a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) was reached between Pakistan and Afghanistan for the Afghan-Pak Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), which was observed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The two states also signed a MoU for the construction of rail tracks in Afghanistan to connect with Pakistan Railways (PR), which has been in the making since at least 2005.

In October 2010, the long-awaited APTTA between the two states was finally inked. The landmark agreement was signed by Pakistani Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Anwar ul-Haq Ahady, Afghan Ministry of Commerce. The ceremony was attended by Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a number of foreign ambassadors, Afghan parliamentarians and senior officials. It would allow each nation’s shipping trucks into the others; Afghan trucks will be allowed to drive through Pakistan to the Wagah border with India, including to the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar.

In November 2010, the two states formed a joint chamber of commerce to expand trade relations and solve the problems traders face. The APTTA agreement has taken effect after several Afghan trucks delivered fruits from Afghanistan to the Wagah border with India in June 2011. With the completion of the APTTA, the United States and other NATO member states are planning to revive the ancient Silk Road. This is to help the local economies of Afghanistan and Pakistan, by connecting South Asia with Central Asia and the Middle East.

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