Afghan Transit Trade back in full swing
By Yasir Habib Khan
Amid Afghanistan’s new situation, Afghan Transit Trade, fully supported by Pakistan and China mainly through Gwadar Port, is up and running， playing a crucial role in supporting the Afghan economy.
In an interview with Khyber Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) vice president Haji Jabir Shinwari, he said, “it is a good omen that Afghan Transit Trade is in full swing on all borders crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan after the Taliban's control over Afghanistan. Credit goes to Taliban, Pakistan, and China.”
Honoring Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) 2010 extended on July 09, 2021, for six months between the former Ashraf Ghani government and Pakistan, he said that the Taliban has allowed Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade on all Pak-Afghan border crossings including Spin Boldak, Chamman, and Torkham.
KCCI Vice President Haji Jabir said that earlier, traders had to pay dual toll taxes; one to the then Afghan government and the other to the Taliban. “Now we are paying only to Taliban”, he added.
Given the situation, the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) Secretary-General Ms. Faiza showed optimism. She said, “the current tweets and first press conference of Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid in which he claimed economic progression is sole pivotal focus gives us a hint that Afghan Transit Trade will never take a hit”.
Besides, after Afghanistan's financial system went haywire, the Afghan transit trade has become probably the sole source through which they have been generating revenue. “Their monetary need is the catalysis behind keeping alive APTTA”, she said.
“We have reported that a few days back, trucks flow at border crossing witnessed considerable fall. Instead of 400 trucks, the number dipped to 40. In two days, trade traffic is relieved, and that is very heartening to trade business,” she added.
On a query, she said that until the governance system authorizes the economic team to set negotiating terms and conditions, it remains unclear how APTTA to be dealt on the long run as it is going to expire in November this year. “Currently, transit trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan hovers around $ 1 billion. Whether this volume goes up or goes down, time will tell”, she said.
According to APTTA 2010, Afghan trucks enter Pakistan via border crossings to transit Afghan goods across Pakistani territory, and to import goods from Pakistani ports in Karachi, Port Qasim, and Gwadar. APTTA authorizes Afghanistan trucks' access to Wagah border with India, where Afghan goods are offloaded onto Indian trucks, but does not permit Indian goods to be loaded onto trucks for transit back to Afghanistan.
In October 2010, the landmark APTTA agreement was signed.
Afghanistan has become the first landlocked Central Asian country benefiting from the Gwadar Port for transshipment trade. In 2020, the country imported 43,000 tons of fertilizers through the port contributing to its agricultural development.
Located in Balochistan province, Gwadar Port is a key project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Since its operation, the port has begun to play a new role as an efficient transit stop and time-saving trade port for land-locked Afghanistan. The shipment of fertilizer started in January 2020.