ICCI strongly opposes new APTTA

  • July 19, 2010
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) has shown serious concerns over the finalization of new Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) as it has compromised the trade and economic interests of the country.

Mr.Zahid Maqbool, President, ICCI said that government has given a free hand to Afghan transport units in Pakistan by allowing them under new APTTA to carry goods from Afghanistan to Wagah border for export to India. He said it would badly affect the business of local transporters who are attached with Afghan transit trade and will also create new security problems for the country.

However, government should have taken on board the private sector and the transporters before finalizing the new APTTA with Afghanistan. He said taking unilateral decisions on such key matters will not serve the interests of our business community and the country at large. He said LCs under afghan transit trade should be opened in Afghanistan instead of opening them in Pakistan.

He feared that the new APTTA would unleash new wave of smuggling in the country and stressed that that all necessary steps must be taken to prevent it. He said that ATTA has already been a major source of smuggling into Pakistan causing huge revenue losses to the economy and adversely impacting local businesses.

He said according to some estimates, ATTA accounts for 75 percent of an estimated $5 billion worth of smuggled goods entering Pakistan annually. Many of the items imported under ATTA, are not even meant for the Afghan market. He emphasized that new APTTA should plug such loopholes completely.

Mr.Zahid Maqbool said to curb smuggling, import of such items that are not needed in Afghanistan should be discouraged.. He said that until 2004 or so, there were scores of items on the negative list, primarily to prevent the misuse of transit trade facility. But since then, due to relentless pressure from Afghanistan, this list has been restricted to only a few items, which has given rise to illegal entry of goods in Pakistan.

Mr.Zahid Maqbool said that Pakistan should try to convince Afghanistan to accept quantitative restrictions in keeping with its actual needs or allowing Pakistan to collect customs duty on Afghanistan's behalf at the Karachi port so that importing goods through transit trade for smuggling can lose its charm.

However, he appreciated allowing Pakistan to export its goods to Central Asia through Afghanistan under APTTA. But he stressed that if Afghan containers and trucks could be allowed to carry goods up to Lahore, then the Pakistani containers and trucks should also be allowed on reciprocal basis to carry Pakistan’s goods through Afghanistan to Central Asia and for this purpose road links should be established with Central Asia.