Pak-Afghan trade transit pact delayed by 4 months

Pakistan on Tuesday said it had delayed the implementation of a key transit trade agreement with neighbouring Afghanistan for four months due to technical problems.

Updated: Feb 15, 2011, 20:31 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan on Tuesday said it had
delayed the implementation of a key transit trade agreement
with neighbouring Afghanistan for four months due to technical
problems.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement,
signed last year, was to be implemented from February 12.

Pakistan`s Commerce Secretary Zafar Mehmood told a
news conference here that the implementation of the pact has
been delayed for four months.

"It was mutually agreed to extend the date of
operationalisation of the agreement by four months," Mehmood
said.

Pakistani officials said a meeting of the Transit
Trade Coordination Authority will be held in six weeks to
resolve outstanding issues.

Mehmood said the financial guarantee under the pact
will be negotiable instruments issued by a scheduled bank and
encashable in Pakistan.

The bank guarantee and revolving bank guarantee should
be issued only by a scheduled bank, he said.

Traffic in transit will not be hampered due to lack of
tracking devices and the existing system will prevail till a
bio-metric system is installed, Mehmood said.

A two-day meeting of the Transit Trade Coordination
Authority ended in Islamabad on Saturday without achieving
consensus on clauses related to bank guarantees, international
requirements for sealable trucks, biometric systems and
installation of tracking systems.

Afghan Deputy Commerce Minister Mohammad Sharif
Sharifi had attended the meeting.

The pact allows landlocked Afghanistan to import goods
through Pakistani sea ports.

It also allows for goods to be transported by truck
from Afghanistan to India via Pakistan.

However, Afghanistan is barred from transporting
Indian goods by road.

Afghan authorities and traders have reportedly
criticised Pakistan`s decision to delay the implementation of
the agreement, which was pushed by the US administration.

A memorandum of understanding on the pact was inked in
Washington about two years ago and the agreement was signed
last year in the presence of US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton.

Afghanistan had agreed to provide Pakistan trade
routes to Central Asia through its territory under the
agreement.

PTI