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Kabul, Islamabad start key economic, trade talks

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL:  Afghanistan and Pakistan opened important day-long talks on trade and economic issues on Monday.

Due to tensions between the two countries over Taliban’s increasing terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, meeting of Afghan-Pak joint economic commission in August was canceled.

“The issues to be discussed in the meeting include taxation, trade facilitation, motorways, highways and  railways projects, increase of scholarships for Afghan students in Pakistani medical and engineering colleges, transportation, energy projects as well as potential joint ventures in various other sectors,” The Express Tribune, a Pakistani English newspaper quoted an official in Pakistan’s Finance Ministry as saying.

A diplomatic source said that Afghan delegation will raise the problems faced by traders due to no implementation of the transit and trade deal signed between the two countries. The source added that Kabul might also urge Pakistan to allow Afghan trucks to use Pakistan’s land route for trade with India. Currently Pakistan allows Afghan trucks to drop goods at Waga, the border between Pakistan and India. However, Kabul let Pakistani trucks to enter Central Asian countries via Afghanistan’s land route.

The Minister of Finance Eklil Ahmad Hakimi is leading a 30-member delegation in the talks while Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is heading Pakistani side.

It is worth mentioning that the current trade volume between Kabul and Islamabad is around $2.5 billion, which is mostly in Pakistan’s favor.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai told reporters last week that the Finance Minister should push Pakistan to implement the ’48 decisions’ taken during  President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Pakistan last year.

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