Pakistani delegation visits Kabul today to discuss trade issues

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani delegation is paying a 3-day visit (July 18-20) to Kabul for negotiations with the interim Afghan government to resolve trade, transit and transport issues facing both sides, including night operations of border facilities for coal imports.

The delegation will be led by Commerce Secretary Sualeh Ahmed Faruqui and will include senior officials from the Ministries of Energy, Interior, Commerce and the Federal Board of Revenue and the National Logistics Cell – the Logistics Fleet Operator run by the state, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce said on Sunday.

“Bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade, transit, transport facilitation and border facilitation will be discussed during the meetings between Pakistani and Afghan officials in Kabul,” the commerce ministry said, adding that issues encountered by traders in bilateral and transit trade between the two countries will also be discussed during the talks.

The meeting is a continuation of an ongoing process of bilateral engagements between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the areas of trade, transit, connectivity and economic cooperation, he added.

Pakistan decided a few days ago to ease trade terms with Afghanistan, including barter and transactions in Pakistani rupees and wants border facilities to operate 24 hours a day to facilitate coal imports from Afghanistan. Afghanistan all night long. At present, trading facilities at border points only operate during daylight hours and most of the time is spent moving people and importing Afghan fruits and vegetables into Pakistan.

The Federal Cabinet on Friday approved amendments to Section 3(1) of the Import Policy Ordinance 2022 to allow the importation of goods of Afghan origin against Pakistani Rupee and without the requirement of electronic forms I-Form (EIF) of importers for a period of one year. . However, Afghan exporters will provide a Certificate of Origin issued by Afghan Customs proving that the goods originated in Afghanistan.

The decision was taken in view of the political and economic situation in Afghanistan. The absence of formal banking infrastructure transactions had a negative impact on trade between the two countries. Afghanistan would benefit from the easing already in place for 14 items since April 14 this year to facilitate the export of fruits by Afghan traders to Pakistan.

In addition, at the request of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Pakistan has reserved 120,000 tons of wheat for Afghanistan from PASSCO’s imported wheat stock on the latest import price taking into account the situation in the neighboring sister country and on humanitarian grounds.

The quantity of wheat supplied and the cost and incidentals would be charged in US dollars. The wheat will be ground locally into flour and supplied to Afghanistan by the WFP, subject to a relaxation of the flour export ban to the extent of the current proposal of 120,000 tonnes of wheat, a source said. official announcement.

Earlier this month, Pakistan started importing coal from Afghanistan for its power plants, particularly the 1,320 MW Sahiwal coal project in Punjab, given record coal prices in the international market.

Energy Minister, Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan had reported on July 7 that major progress in the import of coal from Afghanistan had been made and that the 1,320 Sahiwal Coal Power Project MW had entered into an agreement with an Afghan private entity for the supply of coal with the active facilitation of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Governments. Another 1,320 MW China-Hubco coal-fired power plant was in negotiations for the purchase of Afghan coal, according to the energy minister.

Mr Khan had however declined to share details of the deal, saying these would become public once they were submitted to the National Electric Power Regulator (Nepra) for tariff approval. The minister had confirmed that the Afghan government had increased duties on coal exports from $90 to $200 a ton and that it was still cheaper than international imports from elsewhere, as coal prices had risen above $400. dollars per ton against 90 dollars a few months ago. He said the best thing was that the trade would be in Pakistani rupees which would help the government to save foreign exchange.

The Pakistani delegation will discuss with the Afghan authorities how to streamline the coal supply on a permanent basis and request the Afghan interim government to provide round-the-clock border operations to ensure an uninterrupted supply of coal, especially at night. The delegation would also raise the issue of increased duties on coal deliveries to Pakistan.

Posted in Dawn, July 18, 2022