Pakistan is looking forward to amending the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) to curb smuggling activities. Various trade groups requested the amendments as it was adversely affecting the local industry.
The proposal for the amendments include the following three factors:
- Put more goods in the ‘negative list’, to stop the trade of those respective items (the items included in the negative list are not allowed for imports).
- Allow quota imports for certain products being smuggled.
- Collect duty on Pakistan’s ports and refund on transit out.
The previous treaty gave some permission for the imports of a specific quantity (quota) of the items that were being smuggled, but if these amendments go through, it will become illegal to import such items.
According to an FBR official, the government should allow all three factors, the quota-based imports of items that are smuggled, negative list and duty paid and refund on transit. He added that these policies are applied worldwide and the adoption of such policies would enhance trade between the two countries.
However, officials from the transit directorate said that the traded goods are already electronically tracked on a real-time basis and the data is reconciled between the customs authorities of the two countries and that goods might get back into the country through the porous border regions.
In 2018-19, the value of imported transit goods had reached over Rs5bn from Rs3bn in the previous year, the reason for this 66pc rise in trade was the US sanctions imposed on Iran.
The two countries discussed the transit treaty last month after three years, as the talks were disbanded in the year 2015. Another meeting is scheduled for August 6, 2019. Talks in September 2015 broke down after Afghanistan insisted on adding India in the trilateral trade agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Talks started again when PM Imran Khan met with Ashraf Ghani and decide to increase trade between the two countries.