LAHORE - The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while severely criticizing the proposed Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), has termed it against Pakistans national and economic interests. It is a document that is bound to increase unemployment, poverty and further slow down the process of industrialisation in the country. In a joint statement issued here, the LCCI President Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, Senior Vice President Ijaz A Mumtaz and Vice President Faisal Iqbal Sheikh said that the existing trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan would nose-dive to new lows as India would be catering to Afghanistans business needs at more competitive rates in an efficient way. The LCCI office-bearers said that the Indian manufacturing sector would get a new boost while Pakistans entire industrial sector would suffer badly because the Afghanistans orders would now be directly landing to the hands of Indian businessmen instead of Pakistan. There is no second opinion about it that the ultimate beneficiaries are India and Afghanistan if the agreement is signed in its present shape as has been reported. The LCCI office-bearers said the opportunity given to Afghanistan to export to India was also likely to be misused as had been in vogue for the last many years. Corrupt practices would get currency as the Afghani goods destined for India are likely to get their way to Pakistani markets turning the country into a trading hub instead of a manufacturing place thus hitting the countrys economy hard. The APTTA would be harmful to Pakistans economy as whole and counterproductive for local industry as it would be catalysing smuggling. This is not only the trade and the industry that would be falling prey to the proposed Agreement but the transport sector would also get a blow as the Afghani trucks on their way back to Afghanistan would be carrying Pakistani merchandise to Kabul or other destinations depriving of Pakistani transporters of their business which they were doing for the last many years, they added. They said that Pak-Afghan Transit Trade deal done under US pressure would be benefiting India in a big way while Pakistan would loser as it carries negative consequences for Pakistan. He said that it would have been better if the stakeholders were taken into confidence before preparing the document for such an agreement. Afghanistan is Pakistans important trading partner and bilateral trade has grown from $170m in 2000-01 to $1.491b in 2008-09. Afghan Transit trade through Pakistan has increased from $161m in 2000 to $1.073b in 2009.