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Af-Pak transit trade talks put off at Kabul request

Af-Pak transit trade talks put off at Kabul request

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Oct 11, 2017 - 09:59

PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): A meeting of the Afghanistaninfo-icon-Pakistaninfo-icon Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) has been postponed at Kabulinfo-icon's request, a news report said on Wednesday.

A top forum dealing with hurdles to the smooth implementation of a revised transit treaty between the two nations, APTTCA's last meeting took place in 2016.

Afghanistan's Commerce Ministry conveyed to Islamabad its decision to postpone the meeting through the Pakistan embassy in Kabul, Dawn reported, quoting unnamed sources.

“We have received a formal letter in this regard,” one official told the newspaper. The decision may induce a slump in bilateral trade. Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan fell by 27 percent over the past one year.

After reaching an all-time high of $2.4 billion in 2010-11, Afghanistan's imports from the neighbouring country stayed  above the $2bn mark in 2011-12 and 2012-13 before falling to $1.43bn in 2015-16.

Recorded at $213.47 million in July and August this year, Oajistan's total exports to the landlocked country may account for $1b when the figures for 2017-18 are finalised.

The postponement of the meeting has been tied to Afghanistan's demand that India be included in the bilateral and trilateral transit trade agreements.

Kabul is eyeing access to Indian markets and those in the other member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Countries through the Wagah border crossing.

Resceduling of the APTTCA meeting was confirmed by Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria, who said the request for the postponement had come from Afghanistan.

"Afghan traders have suffered heavy demurrage, detention and overstay charges owing to the frequent closure of the Pak-Afghan border. They have called for a waiver of demurrage which has also created uncertainty."

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