No trade agreement with Afghanistan in three years: NA informed

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Wednesday that Pakistan signed no trade agreement with Afghanistan during the last three years.

In a written reply, the Ministry of Commerce and Textile Industry apprised the House that the volume of Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan stood at $1,623 million in the year 2016-17, of which Pakistan’s export to Afghanistan remained $ 1,286 million and the value of imports from Afghanistan to Pakistan was $ 337 million.

Meanwhile, the ministry said Pakistan took a number of steps to enhance its trade with Afghanistan.

Elaborating, it said a draft of Pakistan- Afghanistan Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) had been shared with Afghan side through diplomatic channels, for which response was yet awaited.

Besides, the ministry, through Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) had planned an Afghanistan Pakistan Central Asian Republics Trade Opportunities Conference in November, 2017 aimed at providing a platform to the private sectors, policymakers and academia to share their ideas on ways and means to enhance Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics.

“On sidelines of the conference, B2B and G2G meetings will also be held,” it added.

The ministry said import of fresh fruits from countries other than Afghanistan was currently subject to 20 percent Customs Duty, 20 percent regularity duty and one percent additional customs duty.

However, keeping in view the socio economic conditions in Afghanistan, the import of fresh fruits from Afghanistan is allowed at a reduced rate of only 10 percent customs duty CD under Fifty Schedule to the Customs Act, 1959.

“Hence a significant tariff reduction (31 %) is already in place on import of fresh fruits from Afghanistan viz-a-viz other origins,”he said.

To facilitate import of perishable goods, including fresh fruits from Afghanistan, the ministry said dedicated staff had been posted for around the clock clearance of customs station Torkham.

“The same procedure has been adopted at Kharlachi and Tank custom stations. Similarly for clearance of fresh fruits from Afghanistan a dedicated line is also in place at Custom House Chaman. However, due to security related operations in the area, Ghulam Khan Customs Station is presently not operational,”the ministry said.