PESHAWAR - The business community has urged the governments of Paki­stan and Afghanistan to ratio­nalize tariffs, revise duties, re­move complicated regulations and policies to improve the mu­tual trade volume and transit trade between the two neigh­bouring countries.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APT­TA) signed in 2011 should be reviewed to remove appre­hensions and reservations of traders, exporters and im­porters and principally sign a fresh agreement, Sarhad Cham­ber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president Maqsood An­war made these demand while chairing a meeting here on Tuesday.

Afghan Consul General in Pe­shawar Najeebullah Ahmadzai also attended the meeting.

The meeting was also attend­ed by the SCCI vice presidents Shahid Hussain, Jalil Jan, former presidents Faiz Muhammad, Za­hidullah Shinwari, Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi, Shuja Muhammad, Abidullah, Afghan Commercial Attaché Fawad Arash, mem­ber Afghan Commercial Attaché Hameed FazilKhel, first Secre­tary Afghan Consulate Pesha­war Ghulam Habib, members of the SCCI Executive Body, of­fice-bearers of the Kohat In­dustrial Estate Traders’ Asso­ciation, traders, exporters and importers.

Speaking on the occasion, the SCCI president Maqsood said that Pakistan and Afghan­istan were enjoying cordial re­lations owing to their common history, religion, culture, and language etc.

However, he said that bilat­eral trade volume between the two neighbouring coun­tries was very low, which should be boosted up by mak­ing joint efforts by the gov­ernments of Pakistan and Af­ghanistan.

“Islamabad and Kabul should set aside their other matters and focus on improvement of mutual trade volume and ensure provi­sion of facilities to businessmen on both sides of the border to re­duce their difficulties.

Cent percent scanning and ex­amination of Pak-Afghan transit trade containers/trucks at Kara­chi Port was against the APTTA agreement as it was allowed to conduct transit goods consign­ments only 20 per cent”, said Maqsood.

The SCCI president said that Pak-Afghan bilateral trade vol­ume had declined from $2.5bil­lion to less than $1billion because of the complicated reg­ulations, unrealistic policies, high tariffs and duties, which should be altered to strengthen bilateral trade as well as tran­sit trade between the two coun­tries.

The Afghan diplomat said that his government was taking sol­id steps to resolve the issues of Pakistani traders, importers and exporters and facilitating them at every level.

“Afghanistan wants to pro­mote cordial trade, economic, culture and religious ties with its neighbouring Pakistan,” said Najeeb Ahmadzai, add­ing that his country had always been kept politics and trade separate.

He said that both Pakistan and Afghanistan should work out a joint mechanism to resolve is­sues of the business community on a fast-track basis.

He also suggested that a meet­ing of Pakistani exporters and importers should be held at Torkham Border to devise a joint mechanism to resolve their problems amicably.

He voiced concern over declin­ing of mutual Pak-Afghan trade volume.