KARACHI (April 02 2003) : It has been officially indicated by government functionaries in Afghanistan that in case the negative list is not withdrawn, Afghan businessmen will be compelled to bring their goods into Afghanistan through Bander Abbas.
If that happens, Pakistan will be losing a lot of revenue being earned through transit trade.
According to the commercial/economic report prepared by the commercial section of Pakistan embassy in Kabul, senior officials of the Ministry of Commerce in Afghanistan and Afghan businessmen have many times expressed their resentment on placing 24 items on negative list, now reduced to 16.
The government of Afghanistan has been demanding removal of negative list for complete implementation of Afghan Transit Trade Agreement.
The Minister for Commerce of Afghanistan has repeatedly requested for removal of negative list to further expand economic and commercial relations between the two countries.
The Pak-Afghan transit trade is governed by Afghan Transit Trade Agreement signed between the two countries in 1965.
According to the agreement, the goods can be transited through only two land routes ie Peshawar-Torkham and Chaman-Spin Baldakh.
Over a period of time, it was noted by the government of Pakistan that the facility of transit trade was being misused and, therefore, it placed 24 items on the negative list of transit trade to Afghanistan.
This list has already been reduced to 16 items.
The report further says that Afghanistan's major trading partners are Pakistan, Iran, India, China, South Korea, Russia and UK and major items of imports include food items (wheat, sugar, ghee, rice, milk, pulses, beverages/mineral water, meat & chicken), construction materials viz. cement, G I pipes, M S pipes, iron bars, floor tiles, paints, sanitary wares and other consumer goods.
About the re-construction activities, the report says that the process of re-construction in the completely devastated Afghanistan has started.
All roads within the country and those connecting Afghanistan with international borders are completely damaged.
The sewerage system has been destroyed. There is acute shortage of electricity because of continued drought during the last four years.
However, with the assistance of donor countries and NGOs, the re-construction work has started. The government is attaching paramount importance to construction of roads.
As peace is returning, the common citizens have also started re-constructing their houses and properties.
All major items required for re-construction activities viz. cement, steel and steel pipes, glass sheet, iron, pipes, tiles, paints etc are being imported from Pakistan.
A thorough market survey was conducted in Kabul to ascertain the sources of import of G I pipes/M S pipes.
The survey revealed that almost 100 percent of these commodities are being imported from Pakistan.