Khurram vows to enhance trade volume with Afghanistan
Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that Pakistan was working on the prospects to enhance trade volume with Afghanistan and bilateral trade would be doubled in coming years.The government had vision for share prosperity, through regionalconnectivity and economic integration for maintaining peace and prosperity in the region, he said while addressing a roundtable on "Pakistan -Afghanistan Cooperation on Trade" organized by Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) here on Monday. He said the government was quantifying the magnitude of opportunities and removing the infrastructural and procedural hurdles in the way of trade and investment in Afghanistan.
The Minister said regional connectivi- ty was the key to fast economic development like European Union (EU) countries.The government had focused on enhancing trans-regional trade and that was also the vision of the economic and trade policies of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government, he said."We are reviewing the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) and opening of three border crossings for trade are beingdiscussed," Khurram said. The minister said the two sides had decided to organize a pilot run of Afghan trucks from Torkham and Chaman up to Wagah carrying Afghan exports to India and Pakistani trucks from Torkham and Chaman carrying Pakistani exports to Tajikistan's border.
He said that Afghan trucks would be allowed to carry Pakistani exports to Afghanistan on their return journey. Partilarly, Pakistani trucks will be allowed to carry Tajik and Central Asian export cargo on their return journey to Pakistan, he added. "We are also taking bold steps to reduce scanning at border
ports at the request of the Afghan government," Khurram said. Last year, the scanning of trade material was reduced from 100 per cent to 20 per cent to help facilitate matters and put trade on a fast track, he said. The major breakthrough is that Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan had signed an agreement for energy transit route for KASA 1000project, he said. The Minister said that under the agreement, 1300 megawatts of electricity would be transmitted from Kyrgyzstan into Pakistan through Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan would be transmitted 1000 megawatts while Afghanistan would get 300 megawatts.Another breakthrough had been made with regard to Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) and the project was likely to be completed in 2019. Pakistan was all set to emerge as a leader in regional connectivity and regional free trade agreement was also the vision of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.