Islamabad - Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan on Saturday decided to expedite the process of consultations to reach conclusive decisions on Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement, which could be signed in Kabul by March this year.

First meeting to discuss the details of Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement (PATTTTA) was held in Islamabad. Secretary Commerce, Shahzad Arbab, acting Minister for Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan, Muzammil Shinwari and Deputy Minister for Commerce of Tajikistan Saeed Rehman led their respective delegations for 1st expert-level group meeting on Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Three countries held deliberations on signing trilateral transit agreement on January 3 with clear-cut timeframe to move towards signing Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement. During the meeting, details of the future trilateral transit trade agreement between the three countries were discussed and the three sides decided to expedite the process of consultations to reach conclusive decisions. The three sides nominated their focal persons for technical discussions for the agreement and agreed to meet in February in Dushanbe with first draft of the trilateral transit trade agreement. The meeting also expressed its consensus to bring the final draft of agreement in March, which may be signed in Kabul.

In his inaugural address, Secretary Commerce, Arbab Shahzad said that the mutual dependence of the countries of the region provides us with an opportunity to benefit from the multifarious opportunites by connecting and linking with each other. Pakistan is very keen to establish its trading links with the neighbouring countries and Central Asia and provide them the link to the world through warm seas at the South of Pakistan, he said.

While expressing his views, Muzzamil Shinwari said that the signing of PATTTTA will be a win-win situation for the three countries in particular and the whole region in general. This Agreement will be a milestone in achieving regional and economic integration, he said. He was of the view that it took nine rounds of talks and a complete year to conclude APTTA but with the keen interest of the participants, PATTTA will be concluded within a much shorter span of time.

Saeed said that the three countries are tied through centuries of traditional economic linkages which are deepening by the day. He expressed the hope of establishing a Common Transport Corridor in the region which would enhance regional trade and investment greatly and attract foreign investors due to its lucrative economic potential.

Prior to this the 5th Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority meeting discussed at length the issues confronted by the Pakistani and Afghan traders.  Issues regarding electronic data interchange, measures to reduce cost of transit, facilitations at the ports of Karachi, training of Afghan officials for expeditious registration under WeBOC, pending Insurance Guarantees with Afghanistan, Single Goods Declaration Format both for Transit and Bilateral Trade, establishment of Joint Business Councils, multiple entry visas for Pakistani workers Custom Cooperation Agreement (CCA) between Afghanistan Customs Department and FBR, automation of the Goods Declaration (GD) at Torkham for Pakistan’s Exports and verified Invoices for goods entering Afghanistan were discussed.