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Old Monday, July 19, 2010
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Default Afghan transit trade

Afghanistan allowed to use Wagah for exports to India: Pakistan-Afghan accord on transit trade

ISLAMABAD, July 18: Coinciding with the presence of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pakistan and Afghanistan finalised on Sunday the new Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), allowing Afghan trucks to carry export goods to Wagah border for onward destination to India.

Under the agreement, Pakistan would also be able to take its trucks through Afghanistan to Central Asian Republics but Indian goods would not be allowed to pass through Pakistan’s territory via land route.

Spearheaded by the United States, the two countries had signed a memorandum of understanding in early last year to sign before December 31, 2009, a revised trade agreement allowing Afghanistan-Pakistan-India trade through land route. The question of allowing trade with India met a strong reaction in Pakistan because of this issue being part of the bilateral trade. As a result, the set deadline was missed.

The minutes of the agreement were signed by the commerce and trade ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mr Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Dr Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady and witnessed by Ms Clinton and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan have reached an understanding on all major issues relating to the Afghan Pakistan Transit Trade to conclude the process of negotiations in this regard. It has been agreed that no Indian export to Afghanistan will be allowed through Wagah,” an official statement issued by the ministry of commerce said after the signing ceremony.

An official explained that the draft agreement would be vetted by the ministry of law and then submitted to the federal cabinet for formal approval. He said the Afghan side wanted the formal agreement signing during the Afghan donor conference in Kabul in the next three days. This would, however, not be possible for practical reasons.

He said that vetting by the law ministry and its approval by the cabinet may take at least a week because a cabinet meeting was not scheduled during the upcoming week and perhaps a special cabinet meeting may not be convened for the purpose.

Responding to a question about allowing Indian goods to be airlifted to Karachi airport for onwards transportation to Afghanistan, the official explained that APTTA did not allow taking Indian goods even out of the airport. He said that Indian goods could be airlifted from Karachi to Afghanistan under international laws.

Responding to another question, the official said that Afghan trucks would be allowed to take Pakistani products from Lahore to Peshawar, Torkham or anywhere in Afghanistan on their way back after offloading their goods at Wagah to reduce their transportation costs.

The broad-based “record note” signed by the two sides says that Pakistan and Afghanistan hoped the resolution of all outstanding matters relating to the finalisatioin of APTTA would help in the early signing of the agreement, after completion of legal processes from both sides.

“The agreement thus signed would be an important milestone in the development of Pak-Afghan Trade and Economic relationship to the mutual benefit of both sides,” the statement said.

The Afghan trucks will be allowed to carry Afghan Transit Export Cargo on designated routs to Pakistani seaports and Wagah. The Afghan transport units, on return, shall be permitted to carry goods from Pakistan to Afghanistan under the same expeditious procedures and conditions as Pakistani transport units.

It was also decided that all Afghan transit goods would be exported in containers of international specifications. For a period of three years, the cargo will be allowed to be transported in internationally acceptable and verifiable standards of sealable trucks while the oversize and bulk cargo which is not imported in containers – ship load will be transported in open trucks or other transport units.

The two sides also agreed to transport export of perishable goods in transit in open trucks or other transport units. The drivers and cleaners will be allowed to enter and exit the two countries on short-term work permits identified by biometric devices installed at entry points.

The two sides decided that an Arbitral Tribunal will be established bilaterally. In case of failure to agree on a common name of a third arbitrator, two names of non-nationals and non-residents will be proposed by each side and the third arbitrator will be selected by drawing lots from the four proposed names.

To tackle the issue of unauthorised trade, the two sides agreed to install tracking devices on transport units and a mechanism for custom to custom information sharing (IT data and others) will be established.

In this context, it has also been agreed that financial guarantees equal to the amount of import levies of Pakistan have to be deposited by authorised brokers or custom clearing agents to check the un-authorised trade and these deposits will be released after the goods exit the country. In case, the goods do not exit the country within specified time, the guarantees will be encashed by custom authorities. Moreover, the agreement to be signed will be subject to any other measures to be taken by APTTA
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Old Tuesday, July 20, 2010
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this decision has said to have adverse effect on the "local market". The RCCI, KCCI, ICCI, GCCI have all agreed that this decision will adversely affect local market and trade + not to mention of the smuggling.

Can same on clarify me how it can adversely effect our local trade?? Please elaborate in detail?
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Old Tuesday, July 20, 2010
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dear camran..

its obvious i guess...before this ...the transit was taking place either via air transport or through Pakistani hands...for example:: lets take the dry fruits or carpet industry...a Pakistani middle man would buy them and then export them to India and other countries.. Now the Afghan guy on an Afghan truck will ride all the way from Kabul and take it to India. so that eliminates our middle man....please keep in mind India is a bigger market, with a bigger demand and therefore highly competitive prices...

now the affects of smuggling....the trucks returning back cannot take Indian goods on them...ofcourse they can't n won't go empty or without any payload. so what will they do: they will carry our flour, wheat, corn cattle etc because there is no mention of such things in the clauses....Pakistan will have to come up with some laws to stop them.. but we have been trying that for the Past so many years and we have utterly failed in it ...we have a greed for profit.. a Pakistani will not pay 10,000 for a bakra but an Afghan wil do so with all those American dollars there
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why transit trade agreement is vehemently opposed in pakistan specially by religious parties..?how it can effect oue economy..?why americans r interested in it...? plz i need your help for these questions
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Old Tuesday, July 20, 2010
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Pakistan Concedes to US, Again
US ambassador to Kabul was negotiating with Pakistan as part of the Afghan delegation

- Hillary Clinton played the role of India’s advocate, refused to mediate on Kashmir or condemn Indian rights violations

- A sentence in the statement denying India land routes is a clever smokescreen for other Pakistani concessions

- Pakistan has done a favor to US interests in the region

- Afghanistan and India will consolidate trade using Pakistani land routes

- In return, none of Pakistan’s core security interests in the region were conceded by Washington, Kabul or New Delhi

- Pakistani military’s role in this arrangement is not clear

By AHMED QURAISHI

Monday, 19 July 2010.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistanis received a humiliating reminder today of how weak their nuclear-armed nation has become after eight years of a debilitating and unfair partnership with the United States in Afghanistan.

Most Pakistanis cringed at the sight of Mrs. Hillary Clinton standing watch over the Pakistani prime minister as another Pakistani minister signed a memorandum granting Kabul generous trade and logistical facilities for little or no reciprocal benefit to Pakistan.

Pakistan’s pro-US ruling elite has once again done a favor to US strategic interests at the expense of Pakistan’s own.

The deal also enhances trade between Afghanistan and India without letting Pakistan extract any concessions in return. The US role was basically to put pressure on Pakistan on behalf of its puppet regime in Kabul and on behalf of New Delhi, Washington’s strategic partner in the region.

Senior US diplomats from the US Embassy in Kabul were part of the official Afghan delegation. According to The News, Afghan delegates repeatedly left the meeting room with the Pakistani foreign and trade ministers to consult with US diplomats seated in an adjacent room during talks. And according to The Nation, US ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry personally traveled to Islamabad to oversee this deal. And he did so as part of the Afghan delegation. Strangely, no Pakistani official questioned this direct meddling in what is supposed to be a bilateral Pak-Afghan deal. Ambassador Eikenberry is no stranger to meddling in other people’s business. Earlier this month, the Attorney General of Afghanistan complained that Eikenberry ‘threatened to remove him from office’ if he didn’t follow US ambassador’s orders.

WHY IT STINKS?

The actual deal is about Pakistan granting Afghanistan the right to export goods to India using Pakistani land routes.

Some clauses have been added to ensure that Afghan trucks won’t smuggle goods to Afghanistan or dump duty-free goods in Pakistan.

The supposed attraction for Pakistan is that Kabul has allowed Pakistani trucks to take Pakistani goods to Central Asian republics through Afghanistan.

The most interesting part is that Pakistani, Afghan and American officials hammering out the new deal made sure to include a line that says India won’t be allowed the export of goods using Pakistan land routes.

There is little doubt this line is meant for domestic consumption in Pakistan and is possibly meant to offset potential opposition from the Pakistani public opinion and some quarters within the Pakistani foreign office and the military.

This is the official line on the deal. The reality, however, is different:

Pakistani trucks already take Pakistani goods to Central Asia. The official cover provided by the new deal is of little consequence. Much of the Afghan territory is already under the control of warlords who tax trucks passing through their lands. The pro-US Pakistani government claims Pakistani trucks will get formal Afghan and western protection. But US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are incapable of providing such guarantees.

Already some Indian goods are smuggled through Pakistan to Afghanistan despite an official Pakistani ban. Now with Afghan trucks allowed to reach the Pak-Indian border, smuggling back Indian ‘exports’ will be even easier, further helped by endemic corruption in Pakistan’s state machinery.

Afghanistan’s puppet government, intelligence and security, all working under tight US supervision, are involved in exporting terrorism to Pakistan under the guise of religious and sectarian extremism. Kabul has been doing this with help from elements in CIA and the Indian intelligence. Pakistan has no guarantee from Washington, Kabul or New Delhi that such activities would stop.

India is providing money, logistics, weapons, training and Indian passports to terrorists claiming to represent Pakistani Baloch in the hope of scuttling Sino-Pakistani mega projects in southwestern Pakistan. The Americans are involved in stirring trouble in both Pakistani and Iranian Baloch areas. But Pakistani officials are unable to extract any commitments from the Americans to stop these activities.

US and NATO containers plying through Pakistan have inflict losses of billions of dollars in revenue for Pakistan over the past eight years. These containers have been used to smuggle goods to Pakistan, Afghanistan and beyond, enriching the pockets of corrupt Pakistani, Afghan and American officials. In such a corrupt environment, there is little doubt that India will soon be illegally exporting goods to Afghanistan using Pakistani air, sea and land routes.

INDIAN TRADE ALLOWED

THROUGH BACKDOOR


It is correct that the government of President Asif Zardari has not openly granted India the right to use Pakistani land routes for trade with Afghanistan, but there are strong indications that it has done so through indirect means:

The deliberate and unusual line in the new agreement denying India land routes is a smokescreen that cleverly hides access for India through other options.

There are reports that a tacit agreement has been reached allowing Indian exports to reach the Karachi seaport and transported to Afghanistan from that point onwards by air and land using Afghan trucks.

There is every likelihood that Afghan trucks dropping Afghan exports at India’s border would smuggle back Indian ‘exports’ and Pakistani customs officials would turn a blind eye.

There are two indications that the incumbent Pakistani government has allowed Indian trade into Afghanistan:

Afghanistan has little to export to India. Afghan trucks will be bringing very little to the Indian border. It is feasible that the Americans and their Pakistani proxies in government devised this method to allow Afghan trucks to reach the Pak-Indian border and then let the usual smuggling techniques come into play, allowing those trucks to return to Afghanistan carrying Indian goods.

The key to the new agreement is exploiting loopholes to circumvent Pakistan’s ban on Indian trade to Afghanistan. Here is a statement made by Zardari government’s spokesman, information minister Qamar Kaira, as broadcast by the state-run APP wire news service:

“It is a misrepresentation of facts to say that trade of Indian goods will be allowed through the agreement. Only the Afghan trade goods will be allowed from India and these would be taken over at Wagah border if coming via India.”-Qamar Zaman Kaira, Pakistani information minister, quoted by state-run APP

And if any doubt was left that Pakistan has succumbed to US pressure on granting India one-sided favorable treatment, a news report in a Pakistani newspaper quoting the actual US-brokered agreement has revealed that the text provides the Zardari government for an opening to allow India full export rights to Afghanistan using Pakistani routes any time.

WHAT IS PAKISTANI MILITARY’S TAKE?

It is unclear if the Pakistani military was consulted by the Zardari government before giving such generous concessions to US, Afghanistan and India. Some critics say that the signing ceremony with Mrs. Clinton in attendance was unnecessary and that the Zardari government hurriedly put it in place to preempt objections from Pakistani public opinion and the military, drawing strength from the presence of Mrs. Clinton.

But this line of reasoning is unlikely. What’s more likely is that the Pakistani military was consulted before granting this concession to US, Afghanistan and, indirectly, India.

One sign of this is that Husain Haqqani, Mr. Zardari’s point man in Washington, has admitted he granted US officials 450 visas, some 140 of them to US military personnel. This is a personal victory for Mr. Haqqani who last year went as far as warning the Pakistani military that supply of US military hardware could cease if US visa requests were not obliged. With the visas granted, this basically means an increase in the number of US boots on the ground in Pakistan, and this would not be possible without a nod from the Pakistani military. That’s a change from last year, when Pakistani security officials felt the entry requests of 450 US government officials to be stationed in Pakistan was a sign of growing US meddling inside Pakistan. It is possible that the number of US soldiers in Pakistan has increased now to more than 300 to 350, considering that around 180 ‘trainers’ were already stationed here [Haqqani didn’t say if the 450 figure includes visa renewals for US personnel already stationed on Pakistani soil]. Also, this figure does not account for private security contractors working for DynCorp, which apparently has been allowed operations inside Pakistan after initial hurdles.

In all of these cases, Washington got its way. These developments indicate that the Pakistani military is on board with Mr. Zardari’s government on the new unilateral concessions to US and its regional allies.

The only way the Pakistani military would have swallowed these humiliating concessions is if it believed the concessions would help nudge President Karzai into a deal with pro-Pakistan elements in the Afghan resistance movement. It would be a surprise if the Pakistani military did actually pin hopes on this option because the Pakistani concessions are disproportionate to the questionable gain.

There is also the possibility that the Pakistani military has simply been cornered on this issue by Washington and its proxies in Islamabad.

But whatever the thinking of the Pakistani government and military, there is little question that the Pakistani public opinion is stunned at Pakistan’s unusual and unexpected compromises. The pro-US government in Islamabad accepted US pressure and signed a deal without consulting Parliament or gauging the mood of the Pakistani people.

THE ENDGAME

In exchange for these compromises, Pakistan should have asked for:

Dismantling of terror training camps in Afghanistan targeting southwestern Pakistan

End to Indian military and intelligence presence in Afghanistan aimed at Pakistan

US and NATO forces ending the flow of weapons, money and fuel supplies to terrorists inside Pakistan

Compensation for more than US$ 40 billion in losses to Pakistan’s economy due to America’s war

End to the incessant demonization of Pakistan by the US media and the US role in the spread of global panic over Pakistan’s nuclear program

End to US opposition to a Pak-China civil nuclear deal

Far from achieving any of the above, Pakistan’s self-defeating compromises in America’s war on terror continue unabated. Pakistan’s politicians and the military appear incapable of extracting any benefits in a regional situation where almost every country – US, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, NATO – appear to have made strategic gains. Islamabad is left with internal insurgencies and militaries and spy agencies from several countries wreaking havoc in and around Pakistan.

source:http://www.pakistankakhudahafiz.com/...s-to-us-again/
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Old Wednesday, July 21, 2010
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Default Afghan Transit Trade

Greetings,
This is starting of a new era that India-Afghan trade is going to start. But behind the velvet cloth, it may be conspiracy for our beloved country Pakistan that not only the threat of Terrorism but also the Agents of India can come through this backdoor open channel easily.


It is requested to all members of the forum that kindly share the remedies about India-Afghan Trade. If it is implemented then probably a lot of danger our beloved country has.

With Regards:
Engr. Rameez Khuwaja:
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Old Wednesday, July 21, 2010
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The whole nation must stand against this trade agreement made under the pressure of American Government.Role of media is also important in this regard.
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Old Wednesday, July 21, 2010
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it will give a new uplift to the smugglers and an evident chance to the illegal traffickers.It may defeat the very cause pakistani interests which is taking trouble in paving the way for its bilateral relationship with afghanistan.Both afghanistan and india will be having loaves and fishes of the said agreement and nothing will come in pakistani bowl.
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Old Thursday, July 22, 2010
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i read an article about PATTA.it was written that this agreement is an initial step of the nefarious Amaricans plan of splitting Afganistan.

The agreement at this moment(when Pakistan and China has finalised their nuclear deal)is a hostile reaction to that deal.the main motive behind this is the emergence of India as a powerful tiger of Asia.Some years ago India and Afganistan signed an agreement through which India would help Afganistan in finding out natural resources.

Under this accord India will get benefits dy the nayural resources of Afganistan.

Under this deal,the Afgani trade trucks while returning from India will carry the Indian goods(like black tea which is not much in use of afgan people) to Afganistan without paying coustem duty and then these goods will b imported to Pakistan that will effect Pakistani economy.
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Old Thursday, July 22, 2010
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Afghan goods head for India
By Syed Fazl-e-Haider

KARACHI, Pakistan - Afghanistan and Pakistan on Sunday signed a deal to open their borders to more trade, including goods in transit from Afghanistan to India, in a move hailed by the United States as a sign of improved relations. The pact also gives Pakistan better access to Central Asia via Afghanistan.

The commerce ministers of the two Asian countries signed the document at the seventh round of talks for Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) in Islamabad in the presence of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was visiting the country ahead of an international conference in Kabul.

The agreement allows Afghanistan to move goods to the border crossing at Wagah, east of Lahore, and lorries leaving goods there to carry Pakistani products back to Afghanistan. It did not however agree to allowing India a transit route to Afghanistan. Before it grants this, Islamabad wants transit facilities for Pakistani good through India to Nepal and Bhutan.

Afghanistan forms a land bridge between South and Central Asia and by virtue of its location it could emerge as a trade hub connecting its neighbors to the east with markets in the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe. Before that happens, much has to be done to upgrade inadequate physical infrastructure such as roads, ports, and border crossings. Other constraints include customs issues, trade policies, permits, visa regulations, and endemic corruption.

Under President Hamid Karzai's government, Afghan trade has picked up in recent years, helped by trade deals with Iran, India and the Central Asian states, all of which grant major concessions to Afghan goods. The efforts have been made to reduce dependence on Pakistan, which has been Afghanistan's principle trading partner and entry port for imports and exports.

Annual trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan, at present worth more than US$1 billion, is expected to reach $2 billion per annum after the signing of the new agreement. The bilateral trade is, however, one-sided as it comprises larger imports from Pakistan, with little scope for formal Afghan exports. Afghan's transit trade through Pakistan has increased to $1.07 billion in 2009 from $161 million in 2000. The country's main exports include fruits and nuts, gemstones and fabrics such as handwoven carpets, wool and cotton.

US officials consider the new APTTA a victory for the US administration, which has been encouraging closer relations between the two countries as a cornerstone of its efforts to fight Taliban extremists in Afghanistan. The US had given Pakistan a November 30, 2009, deadline to sign the agreement but the government slowed the process on the grounds that it could not finalize the pact before consultation with the private sector.

The deal represents "the most significant bilateral economic treaty ever signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan," Bloomberg reported, citing a statement released by the US Embassy in Islamabad. The two Asian countries agreed to expand existing trade routes and open new ones, which may help curb smuggling and other illicit border commerce.

Under the new trade agreement, Pakistan will have trade access to Central Asia, according to the Dawn News, a private TV Channel. It was also established that only licensed individuals are to benefit from the transit trade.

The denial by Pakistan of a transit facility for Indian goods destined for Afghanistan, where they are in high demand, means that these will continue to be smuggled there after being imported into Pakistan, Daily Times reported, citing a member of the Afghan delegation. An official transit facility would cut costs, undermining the illicit trade and benefiting Afghan consumers.

The rejection of Kabul's demand for transit trade rights for India was not unexpected, said an editorial published in Dawn newspaper. "Given the bilateral tensions and mistrust, few expect the two governments to agree to allow each other land transit rights. In fact, the two countries' mutual suspicions are inhibiting the expansion of intra-regional trade in South Asia, which remains the world's least integrated area. The vast potential for trade within the region is largely untapped, mostly because of India-Pakistan hostilities," it said.

Still, the Afghan business community welcomed the expected decision to open trade between Kabul and New Delhi. "If we sign this agreement, it will decrease [differences] because we will have found a way for everyone to carry out business without any problems," Reuters reported Abdul Qadir Bahman, the director of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce, as saying.

The deal was less welcome in Pakistan, where critics say goods brought to Afghanistan under the 1965 Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) hurt local industries, which struggle to compete with the duty-free goods smuggled back to Pakistan from Afghanistan. If the agreement had been extended to allowing India to use the Wagah-Khyber transit route it would lead to the closure of remaining industrial units, they said.

Under the new agreement, the two countries are to cooperate more closely to tackle smuggling. The Afghan side reportedly asked Pakistan to cut import duties on officially imported items so as to undermine the profit margins on duty-evading smuggled goods.

On the other side, Pakistani traders claim they suffer from discriminatory policies on the part of the Afghan government and demand that bilateral trade be on an equal basis and that Kabul provide the same facilities as are being provided by Islamabad. The Afghan government imposes an 18% import duty on Pakistani goods, whereas there is no import duty on Indian items.

Transit to Afghanistan through Pakistan has been governed by the ATTA, which specifies ports, routes, transport and customs transit procedures. These curbs have served as an umbrella for extensive smuggling of imported products such as tires, black tea and electronics goods, booked for Afghanistan, into Pakistan, undermining local industry and legal imports.

The National Assembly's Standing Committee on Finance said in January that the Afghan Transit Trade was the main source of smuggling into Pakistan, estimated at $4 billion to $5 billion annually with an associated revenue loss of $2.5 billion.
source:http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LG20Df01.html
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