Pakistan, Afghanistan sign US-backed deal

Pakistan and Afghanistan on Sunday signed a landmark trade agreement that has been heavily promoted by the United States.

Pakistan, Afghanistan sign US-backed deal

Pakistan and Afghanistan on Sunday signed a landmark trade agreement that has been heavily promoted by the United States.

The Afghan and Pakistani commerce ministers signed the pact in Islamabad during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U.S. officials said the final deal was reached in part after the Pakistani military signed off on the transit plan despite persistent fears of weapons smuggling.

U.S. officials say the new deal will reduce average transit costs between the two countries by half, lower import costs and make exports more competitive, along with helping employment prospects on both sides of the border.

"Bringing Islamabad and Kabul together has been a goal of this administration from the beginning. This is a vivid demonstration of the two countries coming closer together," Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said after the signing ceremony.

The pact, which has to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries, allows Afghan trucks to transport exports to India via Pakistan by the Wagah land route.

Pakistan will not permit Indian exports to Afghanistan through the Wagah route, although both sides agreed to discuss this further.

The agreement also sets up a joint Chamber of Commerce between the private sectors of the two countries.

Almost 50 percent of Afghanistan's trade is with its five neighbours Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan is worth more than $1 billion.

The trade deal comes ahead of an international conference in Kabul on Tuesday at which donor countries and Karzai's government will meet.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Temmuz 2010, 10:25

SeydiAli

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