Traders Seek Review of Ban on 14 Items Under Afghan Transit Trade

Pakistani and Afghan traders have called for a review of restrictions on importing 14 commodities under the Afghan transit trade (ATT) to allow the clearance of 3,380 containers stuck at Karachi Port.

According to a report, an official of the Nangarhar Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Jalalabad (Afghanistan) has asked the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to separate politics from trade and to resolve political concerns through political and diplomatic channels. He remarked that the current issues are causing financial losses to merchants and the general population in both countries.

The Afghan importer said a considerable number of containers are stalled at Karachi port, while other importers have transferred their containers to Iran’s Bandar Abbas port due to restrictions. He warned the Afghan government may decide against seeking transit trade with Pakistan if and when ties between the two countries are normalized.

Separately, a coordinator of the Pakistan-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi, said in this context that the ban is essentially a cap on 212 different items. Such restrictions in the past have been detrimental to the country, with Pakistan Railways losing Rs. 3 billion in freight per year while the banned items were shipped to Afghanistan through various Middle Eastern countries and then smuggled into Pakistan.

Sarhadi urged the federal government to reconsider the 10 percent processing fee on goods dealt via the Afghan Transit Trade and lift restrictions in order to allow the containers to be sent to Afghanistan.

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