ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has ruled out the possibility of linking access to Afghanistan across the Wagah border for the transport of Indian goods, arguing that transit trade is not a trilateral problem anyway.
“We have asked Afghanistan not to link commercial access across the Wagah border and they accepted it because transit trade was a bilateral problem and it was not trilateral to introduce any other into it,” said the Prime Minister’s adviser. Commerce, Abdul Razak Dawood. a press conference here on Wednesday.
He also said he asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to stop NAB’s investigations against the main businessmen, saying that it was not a good thing and that it was necessary to stop him. When asked what was done the last time under the Musharraf regime under the presidency of the then head of the NAB, Gen (retired) Amjad and now again by the NAB, the prime minister’s advisor said he doesn’t want to say anything else about this theme. By abolishing the zero rating regime for five export-oriented sectors by withdrawing SRO 1125 in the 2019-2020 budget, he said he wanted to make it clear that the government would not withdraw from the taxpayer registry.
On the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT), after exchanging proposals through working groups after the visit of the Afghan president to Pakistan, Razak Dawood said he would visit Kabul between August 20 and 30 when the Afghan ambassador extended a invitation. “Kabul is ready to start talks on the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA),” he added.
Dawood said the Afghan side is about to raise the issue of access across the Wagah border, but made it clear that they should not link the bilateral issue in a non-trilateral forum and agreed to do so. He said he raised the issue of increased trade in pencils, televisions and black tea that was once again transported to Pakistan on the pretext that ATT harms our country.
“I am against using ATT for causing damage to our economy.” Otherwise, the Afghan transit trade was beneficial for Pakistan. He said they would study the mechanisms adopted by other landlocked countries to obtain a better provision through the transit trade mechanism. Regarding trade figures, he said that Pakistan’s exports for July 2019 were $ 1.87 billion against $ 1.63 billion in the same month of 2018, registering an increase of $ 233 million or 14.23 percent in the first month of the current fiscal year. He said they would have to wait to obtain data for August 2019 to analyze whether the impact of the devaluation is providing benefits to boost exports.
Rice exports increased by 71 percent, ready-made garments by 17 percent, home textiles by 16 percent, plastic items by 34 percent, chemicals by 26 percent, mangoes by 33 percent and footwear by 24 percent. Imports in July 2019 were $ 3.9 billion compared to $ 4.8 billion, registering a decrease of 18.39 percent. Imports of minerals decreased by 23 percent, the vehicle by 42 percent, paper and cardboard by 32 percent, textile by 35 percent, while imports of machinery and others increased by 11 percent and high-speed diesel imports by 26 percent.
In boosting trade with Korea, he said he made a request to his counterpart during his visit to Korea to grant duty-free access of 13 percent in the pattern of India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia and agreed to consider it with the possibility of celebrating the next round of talks in October 2019. He said Pakistan wanted access to the markets of five countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea and Australia. On the suspension of trade with India and the Kashmir intra region, Razak Dawood replied that he would respond after considering all aspects. In another consultation on the signing of the second FTA with China, he said that Beijing is expected to sign the revised agreement by October 2019.