KABUL - Islamabad has allowed the transfer of stranded shipments to Afghanistan trough two Pakistani companies for a couple of months, the minister of commerce announced on Saturday. Afghan traders faced numerous problems over the past one year in transporting their goods through the neighbouring country. Some six weeks back, Pakistan banned the movement of Afghan shipments. The Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), which went into effect on June 12, allows trucks to carry transit cargo across their common border.
In line with a previous accord, only Pakistani trucks could travel to ports across Afghanistan, while Afghan vehicles were permitted to move only to Peshawar. The Afghan traders' shipments were transported by the Pakistan-based National Logistics Cell (NLC). However, the firm did not have enough capacity to shift merchandise in time.
Before implementation of the new pact, problems of Afghan traders multiplied and thousands of their containers were stranded in Pakistan, which sought cash guarantees --25 percent of vehicle price and custom duties -- from Afghan businessmen.
On Saturday, Minister of Commerce Anwar-ul-Haq told reporters in Kabul that Pakistan has allowed the transfer of 3,000 containers of Afghan traders by Royal and NLC companies over the next two months.
He hoped obstacles to APTTA implementation would be removed and food prices cut with the arrival of the shipments in the landlocked country.
The deputy head of the Afghanistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Khan Jan Alakozay, welcomed the decision. He said traders, seizing the opportunity, would transfer their merchandise into the country.
The traders would not import more shipments through Pakistan as long as all their problems were not addressed, he said.