By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - Afghanistan and Pakistan inked an agreement to boost bilateral and transit trade ties, officials said.
Two days ahead of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Kabul, the two South Asian neighbors signed the agreement on "Electronic Data Interchange of Transit Trade" to streamline bilateral trade, said an official statement by the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul.
Razak Dawood, an adviser to Pakistan's prime minister who landed in Kabul on Tuesday, oversaw the signing of the agreement. "Discussions will include bilateral trade, transit trade, PTA [Preferential Trade Agreement] and moving our trade to a more formal and documented arrangement," he tweeted before leaving for Afghanistan.
Economic experts believe Pakistan seeks to regain the lost market in neighboring Afghanistan.
"The volume of annual bilateral trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan was once worth over $5 billion, but now it is just around $1 billion. Due to ailing economy, Pakistan is desperate to regain that market by promising to address longstanding grievances of the Afghan government and traders," Muhib Sharif, a Kabul-based economist, told Anadolu Agency.
According to the Afghan Foreign Ministry, President Ashraf Ghani had extended the invitation to Khan to visit Kabul during their telephonic conversation on Sep. 25. This would be Khan’s maiden visit as Pakistan's prime minister.