July 21, 2022
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and Afghanistan officials on Wednesday concluded three-day talks in Kabul to enhance bilateral trade, address problems faced by traders, facilitate issuance of visas and ensure early clearance of trucks at border points.
The two sides agreed to start cross-border passenger bus service next month, the Pakistani embassy in Kabul said.
The embassy’s statement said both sides agreed to make border crossing points more efficient to ensure early clearance of trade and transit traffic and address the bottlenecks and impediments on priority basis.
It said that all possible efforts were being made to commence a luxury bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad, and Quetta and Kandahar by the end of August this year.
In November last year, Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed to resume the suspended “Dosti bus service” after more than five years. However, both sides could not do so due to delay in finding suitable transport companies.
A Pakistan delegation led by Secretary Commerce Muhammad Sualeh Ahmed Faruqui visited Kabul on Monday on a three-day visit to discuss mutual steps to “enhance bilateral, trade, transit and connectivity and take necessary trade facilitation measures with a view to address the practical problems/ impediments being faced by importers, exporters, traders and businessmen from both sides”, the embassy’s statement said.
During the current financial year, bilateral trade and transit has registered growth, according to the statement, adding this momentum needs to be sustained and further strengthened on a mutually beneficial basis.
The volume of total trade between the two neighbours in 2021-22 was $1.55 billion. Afghan exports were $834 million, while Pakistan’s exports stood at around $750m, giving the balance of trade in Afghanistan’s favour by $84m, according to official data.
The two sides agreed to implement a Temporary Admission Document (TAD), allowing free movement of bilateral trade vehicles and preventing loading and unloading of goods at the border crossing points with a view to further increase trade between the two countries.
The relevant authorities of the two sides also agreed to increase operational timings at all crossing points, particularly Torkham, Kharlachi (Kurram tribal district), Ghulam Khan (North Waziristan) and Chaman/Spin Boldak.
The heads of the Custom departments of the two countries agreed to work together and evolve mutually connected custom procedures and systems to improve efficiency in clearance of goods.
Difficulties in visa processing would be addressed through mutual coordination, the embassy’s statement said.
The delegation held meetings with ministers and senior officials of relevant Afghan ministries, including acting Minister of Commerce Nooruddin Azizi, and acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi.
Afghanistan official news agency Bakhtar quoted the Ministry of Industry and Commerce as saying that Afghanistan and Pakistan commerce officials held a meeting to discuss strengthening and facilitating trade, transit, transportation and economic relations between the two neighbours.
The meeting held in Kabul was attended by acting Industry and Commerce Minister Nooruddin Azizi, and Pakistan’s commerce secretary and representatives of various sectors.