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Pakistan extends facilities to Afghan traders

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: Commerce Minister of Pakistan, Khurram Dastgir, on Thursday said that Islamabad has extended facilities to Afghan traders aimed at strengthening trade ties between the two neighboring countries.

Speaking at a press conference here in the Embassy of Pakistan, Dastgir said that Pakistan has reduced a range of transit restrictions faced by the Afghan traders.

He said that in the past few years Afghan traders have been faced with some challenges in Pakistan but after visit of the Afghan officials to Islamabad, the new government of Pakistan “eliminated the portion of the constraints”.

Regarding elimination of the transportation restrictions, Dastgir said that Pakistan reduced 80 percent scanning of Afghan cargoes at the Karachi port and afterward 20 percent of the Afghan cargoes would be scanned at the port, adding that the 90 percent of Afghan cargoes would be cleared at the Karachi port within 24 hours.

According to him, the second facility that Pakistan provided to Afghan businessmen is permission of Afghan trucks to carry cargo across Pakistan even to Wagah. Earlier, Afghan trucks were allowed to unload cargo at Peshawar.

He further said that in July this year the Afghan traders could benefit from Pakistan’s railway as well. Dastgir added that railway would carry around 400 containers of Afghan goods per week.

He stressed that these facilities would reduce extra cost and time in carrying transit cargo from Karachi to Torkham. “We are hopeful by implementation of these steps as a measure, portion of the transit trade-related challenges have been resolved,” he said.

Pakistani officials in their meeting here asked the Afghan government to remove the financial guarantee on Pakistani goods. Afghan customs currently charged 10 percent ($100 per 25 ton) on Pakistani goods particularly those exported to Central Asia.

Dastgir said that Pakistan planned to rebuild Torkham Port. He added that after completion of work over the Lahore-Karachi motorway in the next three years, the time to transfer goods would be reduced substantially and would promote the AfPak trade relations.

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