The Indo-Afghan trade had come to a halt after Afghanistan closed its borders with Pakistan to contain the spr...Read More
ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Monday announced resumption of
to India through the
Wagah border crossing
from July 15.
“At the special request of the government of Afghanistan and to facilitate Afghanistan’s
, Pakistan has decided to resume Afghan exports through Wagah border crossing from July 15 after implementing Covid-19 related protocols,” the
Pakistani foreign office
said in a statement.
Sources in New Delhi said Pakistan had restored the “status quo” which existed before the Covid-19 outbreak. Under a Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral trade agreement, while Afghanistan can export to India (through Wagah-Attari border), it can't import from India.
With this step, Pakistan said it had fulfilled its commitments under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), a 2010 bilateral trade agreement, which provides Afghan traders access to eastern Wagah border with India, where Afghan goods are offloaded onto Indian trucks.
Pakistani authorities continue to oppose any proposal to allow India to use the border for two-way trade with Afghanistan, saying it will violate their own bilateral agreement with Afghanistan. Fears have been raised in Pakistan that allowing Afghanistan to import from India through Wagah will hurt Pakistani industries and businesses.
Pakistan, the statement said, had restored bilateral trade and Afghan transit trade at all border crossing terminals to the pre-Covid-19 status. Pakistan had closed its borders with neighbouring countries in March in a bid to stem the raging coronavirus crisis.
Last month, Islamabad had reopened three key trade routes — south-western Chaman, north-western Torkham and Ghulam Khan border crossings — for transit trade and exports to Afghanistan.
“Pakistan remains fully committed to further strengthening its bilateral relations with Afghanistan in all areas, including trade, and to facilitate Afghanistan’s transit trade under APTTA,” the statement said.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share 18 crossing points. The most commonly used ones are Torkham in Khyber tribal region and Chaman in
Jubaid Ali, a Delhi-based importer of dry fruits and spices from Afghanistan said it was the right time to allow transit route to Afghanistan trade as the rates of dry fruits would have otherwise skyrocketed by Diwali. “We had to place orders and were contemplating other routes, which would have only added to the input cost,” he said.
Another importer Mahesh Kumar said that India imports pishori giri, hard shell almond, black and green raisin, jeera, ratanjot and mulethi among others from Afghanistan. “During winters, Afghanistani almonds are in high demand and are already crossed the Rs 900 per kilogram rate in retail market. It would have touched nearly Rs 1,200 per kg, if the Attari route had not opened,” he said.
(With inputs from Yudhvir Rana in Amritsar)