Pakistan Fines Afghan Traders $50m for Stalled Containers

News - Afghanistan

Pakistan has fined Afghan traders a combined $50 million over the past three months for their containers which are stalled in Karachi port, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said Saturday.

According to ACCI officials, Pakistan has forcibly stopped the containers for about 85 days and proceeded to demand daily fines for the containers using the port space.

ACCI deputy director Khan Jan Alokozai said Pakistan has repeatedly ignored the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Agreement (APTA) and is benefiting from the fines.

"We pay almost $1 million a day [in fines] and so far we have paid $50 million. So Pakistan is ignoring APTA, which anticipated such transit problems between the two neighboring countries and suggested some strategies to solve the likely problems," he said.

With around 3700 containers carrying Afghan-owned goods including foodstuffs stalled at the port in Pakistan's south, the fines are expected to continue.

Alokozai pointed out that article 23 in the APTA says "the two sides must attempt to strengthen the transit of goods and give priority to the transport of business goods and they should avoid unnecessary delays."

Afghan traders whose containers are in the port blamed the Afghan government for failing to enforce the contents of agreement.

"We pay $160 for each container [per day]. Neither the Ministry of Commerce nor the Ministry of Finance is addressing the problem so we have failed to implement APTA," trader Ahmad Shah Ahmadi told TOLOnews.

However, Ministry of Commerce and Industries spokesman says the government is making a serious effort to resolve the issue.

"We also did the same action in Torkham port," Wahidullah Ghazikhil said.

Pakistan has previously stopped Afghan containers in Torkham port, receiving $7 million from Afghan traders in fines.

Afghanistan mostly exports its goods via Pakistan and Iran ports but recently government officials have looked at using the middle Asian countries' ports to avoid the problem of trade being blocked.

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