Imports to Afghanistan at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) on Attari border have been halted for the past four days over dispute over a signature on the certifications under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), according to reports. India and Afghanistan have a duty-free bilateral trade agreement as members of member countries of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) including, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“No truck has come from Afghanistan for the last four days. There has been an issue pertaining to SAFTA and the customs officials are dealing with it,” said an official of the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) told Hindustan Times.
The official further said prior to the issue, around 20 trucks had been importing cereals, onions, dry fruits and fresh fruits from Afghanistan.
Traders of India and Afghanistan has taken a huge hit as the Taliban takeover led to change in officials, a move that led to objection by Indian Customs over official signature of the officers on the certification related to SAFTA.
Federation of Karyana and Dry Fruit Association president Anil Mehra said around 150 trucks loaded with dry fruits and other items have been awaiting their clearance at the Wagah border. “If these trucks are not given clearance in a few days, the items being imported from Afghanistan and stuck at the Wagah border can be damaged. The Indian traders, who have already paid for their stocks, will suffer a huge loss."
Porters associated with the ICP have raised concerns over disruption of livelihood amid the Covid-19 pandemic-related restrictions. “With the trade being halted, 1,433 families of the porters are suffering. We were already living a tough life due to the Covid-19 crisis. The government should take immediate action to start the trade," he was quoted saying.
Meanwhile, India allocated Rs 200 crore as development assistance for Afghanistan in its budget for 2022-23 besides allocating Rs 100 crore for the Chabahar port project. India’s humanitarian aid of 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghan people is likely to be transported to Afghanistan through Pakistani land routes from next week.