Bilateral & Transit Trade facilitation with Afghanistan & CARs; Key to mutual prosperity of the region: Asad Qaiser

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Islamabad: Speaker National Assembly has remarked that smooth Pak-Afghan bilateral trade would be helpful in exploring new destination for Pakistani products. He said that Pakistan has meager trade volume with Central Asian Republics (CARs) i.e. US$ 119 Million which can be enhanced exponentially by using the transit trade route via Afghanistan. He said, “The development and prosperity of the country is dependent upon enhancing trade and commerce based relations with all its neighbors.” He expressed these views while chairing the 6th meeting of Executive Committee of Pakistan-Afghanistan Friendship Group in the Parliament House today.

Speaker Asad Qaiser said that smooth and well coordinated border management is imperative for facilitating the traders on all borders especially borders with Afghanistan like Torkham , Chaman, Angoor Adda border points. He formed two task forces on Visa Facilitation & Border Management and Commerce under the Chair of Special Assistant to Prime Minister Arbab shahzad. He also stressed the need for inclusion of all stakeholders in the consultation for formulating new Pakistan Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement which would be renewed in January 2021.

He directed Commerce Ministry to invite Representatives of KPK and Baluchistan Chambers of Commerce and Trade for inclusions of their concern in the forthcoming Afghan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. He also directed the Interior Ministry to coordinate with Pakistan Customs to formulate a proper plan of border management based upon modern and efficient techniques. He instructed the Representatives of Ministry of Interior to physically visit the Torkham Border to assess the on ground situation and resolve issues of traders on ground. He emphasized the need to facilitate Afghan nationals in opening bank accounts and utilizing line of credit facility in accordance with the SBP policy guidelines. Moreover, he recommended that the SBP Governor should hold a meeting with the heads of commercial banks to streamline the hiccups and penalize those who are not facilitating foreign businessmen including Afghan traders.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Arbab Shahzad said that facilitating traders would enhance the over all trade volume with all our neighboring countries.

Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Sadiq Khan said that embassy of Pakistan in Afghanistan has taken a lot of measures for smooth issuance of visas to Afghan nationals.

On the matter of issuance of driving licenses to the Afghan nationals, the committee was apprised that they can attain the licenses by opting the due procedures in ICT. The Committee recommended that the Ministry of Interior in collaboration with the provincial governments should widely publicize the driving license facilities in place for the Afghan nationals residing or visiting Pakistan so that they can benefit greatly from this facility and resolve any impeding issue in this regard.

MNA Shanada Gulzair remarked that border management review is essential keeping in view the socio-economic changes especially in the context of COVID-19.

The 6th Executive Committee was attended by SAPM Arbab Shahzad, Special Envoy For Afghanistan Sadiq Khan, MNAs Shandana Gulzar, Mohsin Dawar, Ms. Nafeesa Khattak and Senior officers of Ministry of Interior , FBR, Commerce , SBP and NLC amongst others.

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