The Pakistan ambassador in Moscow said in an interview with Russia’s TASS news agency that the transit of goods through Afghanistan to Central Asia has surged.
“As the shipping has gotten more complicated, a lot of Pakistani traders are sending their products on trucks through Afghanistan, then they enter Central Asia, where they undergo customs clearance within the Eurasian Economic Union, for example – in Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan, and then they come to Moscow,” said Shafqat Ali Khan, Pakistani Ambassador to Moscow.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Investment said that transit through Afghanistan has increased by 50 percent.
“Transit has increased to Central Asia from Pakistan and India to Central Asia,” said Khanjan Alokozai, a member of the ACCI.
“Afghanistan, because of its strategic location as a route between the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia, is very important in this sense,” said Abdul Salam Javad, a spokesman for the MoCI.
Meanwhile, some economists believe that Afghanistan has a good income through the transit of commercial goods annually.
“Afghanistan is slowly finding that its geographic location can play a main role as a connecting bridge between South Asian and Central Asian countries …,” said Abdul Nasir Reshtia, an economist.
A lot of commercial goods from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, India, Iran, and Pakistan pass through Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, An amended draft of the Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) has been finalized by Afghan and Pakistani officials who have held multiple meetings over the last few months to find common grounds for addressing challenges in trade relations between the two neighboring nations, officials of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said.
The key issues regarding the agreement are permission for Afghan trucks to cross the border to India through Pakistan and the permission to Pakistani trucks to access Central Asia through Afghanistan.
The agreement was extended for three months in March, allowing the two neighboring countries to further discuss proposed amendments in the document and sign its revised version, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
The agreement that was signed in 2010 was expired in February.
The decision to extend the agreement is aimed at preventing any disruption in trade and transit affairs between the two countries, officials said in March.
“There is an optimism that the Afghan transit cargoes would freely commute to South Asian countries via Pakistan territory and Pakistan’s cargo trucks would easily cross Afghanistan to Central Asia,” said Fawad Ahmadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
However, Afghanistan Chambers Federation said challenges that emerged from the agreement in the last 10 years have inflicted millions of dollars in loss to the private sector.
According to the federation, the APTTA agreement was unilaterally observed and was abided only by Afghanistan, not Pakistan.
The business community said that the Afghan government should seek basic solutions for all the problems and challenges pertaining to transit and transportation between the two neighboring countries.
“We hope that Afghanistan can push Pakistan to accept suggestions that we have prepared and convince them to sign the amended version of the agreement,” said Khan Jan Alokozay, the deputy head of the Afghanistan Chambers Federation. “Our problems will remain unsolved if the agreement is not signed or if it is signed like its previous version and without amendment.” According to the information provided by the Afghan government, the problems raised from the APTTA agreement in recent years have reduced the trade volume between Afghanistan and Pakistan to half, therefore, most Afghan investors import goods and commodities through alternative routes in the region.