The Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APPTA) was extended for three months, allowing the two neighboring countries to further discuss proposed amendments in the document and sign its revised version, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said.
The agreement that was signed in 2010 was expired in February.
The decision to extend the agreement is aimed at preventing any disruption in trade and transit affairs between the two countries, said Fawad Ahmadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
He said this will buy time for the two countries to further discuss the proposed amendments in the agreement.
“Work on technical issues of the agreement is underway by representatives of the two countries and it will be signed in compliance with World Trade Organization’s principles,” Ahmadi said.
Afghanistan’s free trade to India via Pakistan and Pakistan’s cargo transit to Central Asia through Afghanistan is one of the five major issues that need to be revised in the APTTA. But the countries have not come up with an agreement on the amended issues after months of discussions.
Naqibullah Safi, the CEO of Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the agreement should be signed within the next three months.
Afghanistan Chambers Federation said the agreement has not proved effective for Afghanistan and instead it has reduced Afghanistan’s exports.
“Overwhelming challenges will remain if basic changes are not applied in the APTTA agreement and if the last decade’s problems in the trade affairs are not addressed,” said Khan Jan Alokozai, the deputy head of Afghanistan Chambers Federation.
The APTTA agreement was signed in 2010 between Afghanistan and Pakistan governments by the United States mediation. However, Afghanistan's private sector continues to raise its concerns about the closure of trade and transit routes by Pakistan more than a dozen times in the last 10 years.