Afghan trade deal may be implemented from June:Pakistan official

Reuters News
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Posted: May 28, 2011 8:04 AM
Afghan trade deal may be implemented from June:Pakistan official

By Kamran Haider

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan and Afghanistan plan to implement a long-awaited transit trade deal that would help war-ravaged Afghanistan boost its trade and economy from the middle of June, a Pakistani official said on Saturday.

The U.S.-sponsored trade accord signed in October 2010 was to be implemented in February but the two neighbors delayed it after they failed to agree on bank guarantees for Afghan goods.

The United States is keen to try to wean Afghanistan off billions of dollars in foreign aid by boosting economic growth.

A Pakistani delegation is going to Kabul next week to hold talks with Afghan counterpart and "give it final touch," a senior commerce ministry official said.

"There has been a very significant progress. There's no major issue, problem which is holding up its implementation," the official, who requested not to be identified, told Reuters.

"I think there is no reason that it is not implemented from June 12," he said.

Pakistan has long expressed its concern over smuggling into Pakistan of goods being imported by Afghanistan.

To ensure the consignments reach Afghanistan and not smuggled back to Pakistan, Pakistan sought bank guarantees from Afghan importers.

Nearly 34 percent of Afghanistan's imported goods are transported through Pakistan, with the rest coming via Iran and Tajikistan.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)