The MEA on Wednesday offered to allow Afghan trucks unload goods at the integrated check post in Attari for exports from Afghanistan, thereby giving access to that country to the Indian market.
Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said: “India provides duty free access to the Indian market for Afghanistan’s export products under the Agreement of South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA).”
“To give a fillip to Afghanistan’s exports to India and to reduce the transaction costs for Afghani exporters, India offers to allow Afghan trucks (carrying their export products) to directly unload at its integrated check post in Attari,” Akbaruddin said. As of now, the Afghan trucks-laden with goods can come up to Wagah (Pakistan’s border), but not to Attari (India’s border).
There is a stretch in-between the two borders and transporting goods due to the lack of the “last mile connectivity” is a major challenge.
With this move, India has given the opportunity to Pakistan to allow these trucks to come up to the Attari checkpost.
The Indian embassy in Afghanistan in a statement said: “We have seen reports in the media about ongoing negotiations on better implementation of Afghan-Pakistan Transit and Trade Agreement (APTTA) and its extension and the fact that Afghan trucks are not being allowed upto Integrated Check Post, Attari in India quoting Article 21 (b) of the Protocol I of APTTA, 2010.”
“Such a restriction would severely curtail Afghanistan’s access to the Indian market. It may be mentioned that India provides duty free access to the Indian market for all Afghanistan’s export products under the Agreement of South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA). In view of this and to give a fillip to Afghanistan’s exports to India and to reduce the transaction costs for Afghan exporters, Government of India offers to allow Afghan trucks (carrying their export products) to directly unload at its Integrated Check Post in Attari.”
“We hope that this offer will overcome the limitation currently being faced by Afghanistan and also contribute to greater regional integration which is an objective pursued by all members of SAARC,”
Earlier this week, Afghanistan has warned it will stop trucks carrying cargo from Pakistan from entering its territory from January 20 if Islamabad does not permit Afghan trucks to go up to the Wagah land border crossing with India.