Delegation members of Pakistan-Afghan Joint Committee have underscored the need to effectively deal with numerous bottleneck hindering enhanced trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan which declined to less than US$1.5 billion in 2015 and continued to go down in 2016. Exchanging views during their visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the delegation members said that trade must thrive and move on a fast-track which can be done when business communities work together and play the role of a strong bridge by bringing people of the two countries close to each other.
Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Senior Vice President KCCI Asif Nisar, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Younus Soomro, MNA Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, Former Deputy Minister for Trade & Commerce Afghanistan Mozammil Shinwari, Former Pakistan’s Ambassador Mian Sanaullah, Advisor to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense Ms. Wazhma Frogh, Senior Journalist Muhammad Tahir and others were present at the meeting.
The delegation members opined that the bottlenecks hindering Pakistan-Afghanistan trade can easily be removed if the two sides act diligently and honestly.
They also expressed deep concerns over delays in clearance of Afghanistan bound goods and further informed that many Pakistani suppliers were exporting sub-standard and poor-quality goods to Afghanistan, particularly pharma products, which was another major reason behind descending trade between the two countries. “Due to low quality of goods being supplied by Pakistani companies, the Afghan people prefer not to buy Pakistan goods which requires serious attention”, said Advisor to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense Ms. Wazhma Frogh. She stressed that this issue has to be addressed in order to save the existing trade volume from further depreciation.
Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, while warmly welcoming the delegates, stated that the economic relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan were more important than political relations hence, the business communities of both sides must look for opportunities to further strengthen the existing trade ties and this must be done on a fast-track.
Extending full support and cooperation to members of Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Committee, Siraj Teli stated that the Karachi Chamber was already trying to improve the existing relations between two countries and they will be more than happy to fully support and cooperate with the Joint Committee as well which has been formed to improve trade ties and enhance people-to-people contact.
“In this regard, Karachi Chamber is ready to nominate a focal person from KCCI who could promptly assist and respond to any inquiries from the members of Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint which would obviously improve linkages and prove favorable in dealing with numerous issues”, Chairman BMG said, “Our doors remain open to help in creating some kind of strong linkage between KCCI and Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Committee for furthering trade ties.
He informed, “Pakistan-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also successfully being run by some of our friends from Karachi Chamber, which has brought the business communities more close to each other. Siraj Teli said that Karachi, being the largest city and the financial and industrial hub of Pakistan, offers immense opportunities and added facilities for investment and joint ventures to Afghanistan’s business community. “In this regard, we, at Karachi Chamber, are always there to support and help as much as possible”, he assured and hoped that the meeting between KCCI and Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Committee would prove to be very fruitful in furthering relations between the two countries.
Earlier, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, while welcoming the delegation of Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Committee, pointed out that during Fiscal Year 2016, Pakistan’s exports descended to $1,230 million while its imports stood at $41 million but these figures do not depict the actual trade volume between the two countries. “The quantum of unofficial trade is said to be very significant at the border of Afghanistan due to which, according to estimates, every day goods worth millions of dollars are moved in and out of Afghanistan through trucks that go unrecorded, he noted, adding that Khyber Pass, a part of historical Silk Road between Pakistan and Afghanistan, is reported to have been widely used for parallel trade which has adversely affected the national exchequers on both sides of the border.
President KCCI noted that although some measures have been taken to deal with this issue but still the situation calls for increasing scrutiny and the installation of modern scanning machines, biometrics and tracking system at Pak-Afghan border. Collective efforts from both sides have to be initiated to deal with numerous obstacles that have led to almost 50 percent reduction in the bilateral and transit trade between the two countries, he stressed.
Referring to Afghan -Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, President KCCI said that this agreement was largely being misused as the Afghanistan bound goods arriving at the ports were actually ending up in the Pakistani markets, causing severe losses and bringing numerous industries in Pakistan at the verge of total collapse. “Though this is an agreement of vital importance but keeping in view the prevailing situation, it is high time to revisit and optimize the execution of APTTA”, he advised.