Afghan transit trade anomalies: PM asks probe team to submit report by Dec 15

Afghan transit trade

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has asked the inquiry committee probing the abnormal increase in Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) to submit its report by December 15, sources said on Sunday.

The four-member committee, headed by Human Rights Secretary AD Khawaja, had sought more time from the Prime Minister’s Office to complete its investigation, the sources added.

The committee was formed to look into the reasons behind the unusual surge in ATT in the last few years, especially after August 2021, when the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

**Afghan Transit Trade Witnesses Robust Growth, Exceeds $4 Billion in 2021-22**

Recent data submitted by various Directorates of Pakistan Customs reveals a surge in Afghan transit trade over the past few years. The trade, which faced a decline during the global Covid-related trade restrictions, has rebounded significantly.

In the initial eight months of 2018-19, Afghan transit trade surpassed $4 billion. However, the subsequent months saw a dip due to the widespread trade limitations imposed globally in response to the pandemic.

Sources indicate a noteworthy resurgence in transit trade volume post-August 2021. The last quarter of 2021-22 witnessed an impressive 51 percent growth in Afghan transit trade.

Contrastingly, the first quarter of the financial year 2022-23 reported a 6 percent contraction in trade. The following quarters, however, displayed a positive trajectory with a 4 percent growth in the second quarter, 5 percent in the third quarter, and a final quarter growth of 3 percent in Afghan transit trade for 2022-23.

Pakistan launches investigation into abnormal surge in Afghan transit trade

Insiders suggest an overall 11 percent increase in Afghan transit trade during the first quarter of the current financial year, signaling a robust start to trade activities.

The committee was initially tasked to investigate the extraordinary surge in ATT in the last fiscal year 2022-23, but later its mandate was extended to cover the data of ATT from each border station from 2010-11 onward.

The committee also asked for the data of top 100 Pakistan Customs Tariff (PCT) codes from Torkham, Ghulam Khan and Chaman borders, comparing 2021-22 and 2022-23.

The sources said that the committee also sought the data of electronics, black tea, fabrics, and tires, which are the most traded items under ATT, from the last ten years.

The committee also asked for the data of Afghan importers from January 2021.

The committee also directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation-Customs to separately furnish monthly analysis of ATT data with respect to the volume of trade, changes in any item, and seizure of commercial transit goods smuggled into Pakistan from the western borders.

The committee also sought the details of pilferage attempts detected or apprehended on the basis of tracking system, scanning, weighment, inspection of seals, or examination of cargo at exit stations.

The committee also asked for the details of action taken against bonded carriers and cancellation of licenses.

The sources said that the committee also directed different field offices of customs to provide details of seizures of commercial goods at import stage at border customs stations, as well as seizures made in Afghan export consignments to India and other countries via Pakistan.

The committee also asked for the details of seizures made in returning transit empty containers.

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