ISLAMABAD – Minister for Commerce, Engineer Khurram Dastagir Khan on Tuesday informed the Senate that land ports and warehouses were being set up at Torkham, Chaman and Wagha borders this year to enhance trade volume.

Responding to various questions during Question Hour, the minister stated that the mass of trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan at present stood at $ 2.28 billion in 2014-15.

Pakistan exported US$ 1.962 million worth of goods to its neighbor, while imports from Afghanistan were at the level of US$ 323 million in 2014-15, he added.

To a supplementary question, he said that commercial transit trade between the two states had increased and stood at $ 2.25 billion during the outgoing financial year, despite concerns of Afghanistan shifting the trade towards Iran.

He said that due to recent military escalations the Torkham border had been closed, and, as a result, business and commercial activities remained suspended. Hundreds of trucks and trailers loaded with fruits and vegetables were stranded on both sides of the border due to the closing of the Pak-Afghan Highway, he added.

The minister said necessary measures to raise trade with Afghanistan were being considered.

In this regard, both Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed in a meeting of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) that the commissariat of the APTTA-2010 shall be revised and amended appropriately with the objective of further facilitating transit trade.

Khurram said that Pakistan had offered to start negotiations on the Preferential Trade Agreement- (PTA) with Afghanistan. In this respect, a draft text of the proposed PTA has also been shared with Afghan.

A response from Afghan side was being awaited, he added.

He added that the Pak-Afghan Joint Business Council Joint Business Council, comprising leading businessmen from both sides, had been established to increase business-to-business interactions.