As part of the overall efforts to enhance ties with Afghanistan, negotiations on the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) have begun. All stakeholders assembled together to discuss the possible reduction of tax and duties, especially in light of the international aid announced by the west. Not only is bilateral trade between the two countries expected to double but opportunities to explore new trade routes will present itself as well.
Currently, the value of Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan lies under $2 billion. If talks surrounding PTA are successful, we can expect this number to go to beyond $5 billion as well. Furthermore, both countries have also been subjected to various types of financial help through debt relief and corona-relief deals with various countries across the globe. As such, it is imperative for both countries to seize the moment and extract as much benefit as they can.
Another reason as to why Pakistan should push for this transit agreement to be implemented fully comes from the need to assert its stance in front of the international community. For years now, our governments have pushed for the Afghan cause, whether that pertained towards securing the freedom of the people, providing economic help or extending political support. This kind of support is one that has often not been acknowledged or appreciated by external geo-political players. However, through trade deals like the PTA, Pakistan’s backing for incurring peace in Afghanistan becomes loud and clear—as it should be.
We have, and will always continue to, stand with the people of Afghanistan through whatever means possible. PTA has the potential to alleviate the economy of both countries substantially, even during the trying times induced by the pandemic. As such, all our efforts need to be focused on ensuring that it becomes a reality.