Finance Minister Ishaq Dar says Pakistan and Afghanistan will have to work single-mindedly and with great zeal to meet the five billion dollars trade volume target till 2017.

Addressing the meeting of Pak-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission in Islamabad on Tuesday, he said the current trade volume between the two countries does not commensurate with the potential of the countries.

Finance Minister said Pakistan is waiting Afghanistan's response for early finalization of Preferential Trade Agreement.

He also drew the attention towards some of the tariff and non tariff issues regarding bilateral as well as Transit Trade between the two countries. He said reasonable progress has been made towards facilitation of trade.

He urged the Afghan side to expedite the process of activation of Joint Business Council so that its meeting be held as soon as possible. This will boost confidence of the Pak-Afghan investors in a big way.

Ishaq Dar said for trade facilitation, we are hoping that Afghanistan would consider relaxing the visa issue regime which impedes visits of Pakistani businessmen. He emphasised that the process of issuance of visa to the businessmen may be reciprocated.

He apprised the Afghan delegates about updates on some of the projects being funded by Committee on Reconstruction & Rehabilitation of Afghanistan. He said FWO and consultant NESPAK have been mobilized at Torkham-Jalalabad additional carriageway and hoped that the project will be completed by December next year.

As regards 200 beds Jinnah Hospital at Kabul, he said 118.854 million rupees were released to NLC to ensure an early completion of the project. Similarly, the hostel building for 1000 students at Rehman Baba School is nearing completion and will hopefully be operationalised during the first half of next year.

He said Ministry of National Health Services is coordinating with PIMS and Institute of Kidney Diseases Centre, Peshawar to train 117 trainees for Nishtar Kidney Centre.

Regarding the project of Chaman to Spinboldak rail link, he emphasized on relevant authorities of both sides for professional cooperation so that construction of Chaman to Spinboldak section by Pakistani side may synchronize with construction of Kandahar to Spinboldak section by the Afghan side.

He said the development projects being discussed are only tangible milestones of cooperation between our two countries. What is even more important is the spirit and commitment to peace and prosperity that we have for each other.

He said educational scholarships to over two thousand Afghan students have been awarded in different disciplines.

The meeting discussed projects relating to trade, energy, railways and roads. The Commission considered to link Chaman with Kandahar and Peshawar with Jalalabad through rail. It also exchanged views to increase trade volume between the two countries.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have also agreed to pursue two major projects to boost regional connectivity and overcome energy shortages.

This was announced by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his Afghan counterpart Eklil Ahmad Hakimi while talking to newsmen after signing minutes of the meeting of Pak-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission in Islamabad this evening.

One project is aimed at creating a new Herat-Khuzdar-Gwadar Corridor, which would be virtual extension of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The other project is import of 2000 MW electricity from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan.


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