Central Asian States invited to join Pak-Afghan transit trade


Despite a delay in the implementation on the transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, diplomatic efforts are underway for formal joining of land-locked Central Asian Republics to the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).
CARs invited:
An official source said Pakistan has invited Central Asian Republics to join APTTA. Their joining of the treaty would help facilitate cross-border and transit trade, in turn helping increase business activity and investment in the region. It would also help in removing barriers to cross-border transport of goods and people through designated borders with faster customs inspections and reduced requirements to transfer shipments.
The Central Asian states are interested to use Pakistani ports for their trade, he said, adding that they were also looking to establish regional power transmission networks and gas pipelines. Pakistan and Afghanistan are members of importing 1000 MW electricity from Central Asia and gas supplies from Turkmenistan.
Delayed implementation of accord:
APTTA, signed between Pakistan and Afghanistan last year, was to replace the 1960s treaty from January this year. However, differences over bank guarantees and insurance cover on transit trucks and goods have delayed implementation on the accord for more than eight months. However, the source said that the joining of the other states would help in early removal of irritants between the two countries.
Pakistan’s business community has serious reservations regarding the access given to Afghan vehicles to ports and the Indian border, which are brushed aside by officials as they say proper checks have been kept in the treaty to counter any miss use. Under the treaty, Afghanistan granted a reciprocal concession to Pakistani trucks to take goods without any duties to Central Asian states, where there is huge scope for Pakistani textiles, agricultural, surgical and sports goods.
Strengthening the bond:
Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics are also members of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), sponsored Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) that also includes China to promote regional projects in energy, transport, and trade. The source said that being members of different accords further strengthens the bond as CAREC, established in 2001 seeks to ease the movement of goods, vehicles and people across international borders. To date, members governments, ADB, and other international financial institutions have approved over 100 CAREC-related projects worth about $16 billion. These projects include six land transport corridors that cover 3,600 km of roads and 2,000 km of railway. They traverse the CAREC region north-south and east-west, linking Europe, East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and beyond.