Monday, 27, June, 2022

In a first, a private trader in India has exported commercial goods to Uzbekistan through Pakistan and Afghanistan in a historic trade activity linking the four countries, according to a media report.

Trucks carrying 140 tonnes of cargo, mostly sugar from India, departed Kabul on Wednesday for the Uzbek capital Tashkent, the Voice of America reported on Wednesday.

The shipment arrived in the Afghan capital a day earlier from Pakistan via the Torkham border crossing between the countries, a spokesperson of the Taliban’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce Maulana Zaheer was quoted as saying in the report.

The ministry organised a special ceremony to facilitate the transit of the Indian goods, hailing it as a major step towards turning Afghanistan into a key trade link between Central and South Asia.

The commercial cargo originated from Mumbai and travelled through the Karachi seaport in Pakistan earlier this month before being trucked to its Uzbek importer under a recently inked bilateral transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Uzbekistan, a Pakistani official told the state-owned American radio broadcaster.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed the agreement along with several other documents during his two-day official visit to Islamabad in early March.

The Pakistani official emphasised that the Uzbekistan-bound Indian commercial consignment was a privately-arranged activity under the agreement and had no government involvement from any of the four countries.

“It will now become a regular activity, and Uzbekistan will be able to import goods from anywhere through Pakistani seaports,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media.

The Taliban authorities are bound to facilitate the trade activity because Uzbekistan, a landlocked country like Afghanistan, also has rights to access Pakistani ports to conduct international trade, the official said.

Islamabad allows Kabul to use its ports and land and air routes to conduct trade with other countries under a long-running bilateral arrangement known as the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).

Under the APTTA, Afghan traders are allowed to export their goods to India through Pakistani land, air and sea routes, but they can import Indian goods only through seaports because of strained ties between Islamabad and New Delhi.

However, Pakistan recently allowed India to use its land routes to transport 50,000 tonnes of wheat that New Delhi had donated in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, where millions of people face acute hunger, the report added.

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