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Published Date: Aug 23, 2013

SDPI Press Release (August 23, 2013)

In wake of President
Hamid Karzai upcoming visit to Pakistan next week, Sustainable Development
Policy Institute (SDPI) on Friday organized a consultation to discuss the
emerging trends and challenges of Pakistan Afghanistan trade and the way
forward.

The consultative meeting titled “Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade: Emerging Trends and Challenges” was participated
by senior officials, economists, politicians and representatives of chamber of
commerce and industry.   

Speaking
at the occasion, Ejaz Haider, Senior Analyst and Anchor Capital TV said that
trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan presents an ironical situation where
free movement of trade, goods and services are essential but unfortunately, at
the same time it has to also consider a cap of greater security arrangements.
He said that trade never stops, even between the countries at war and policy
makers in both the countries must took measures to bridge historical
geo-political challenges and devise policies which can protect the interests of
both the countries.  However, he vowed policies favoring the end consumer
instead of manufacturers and industrialists, which he said were unnecessarily
protected in last many decades.

Mansoor
Malik from PTI Think Tank said that Pakistan Afghanistan trade must adhere to
21st century principles of free movement of goods, trade and
services. He envisioned a greater cooperation between the two countries under
regional trade agreement such as SAFTA and Afghanistan being a part of those
agreements.

Jan
Achakzai, Spokesperson for Jamait Ulemai Islam (JUI-F) said that smuggling
issue in Afghan Transit Trade have many dimensions but one pertinent area to
immediately improve upon is the corruption in border security and custom check
posts. They not only create hindrances for Afghan traders but are one of the
major sources of dumping of Afghan transit goods in Pakistan, he added. He was
of the view that although there are stringent measures need to be done by
Afghanistan, but Pakistan must also pay head to the genuine concerns of afghan
traders as well such as delays in custom clearing, bureaucratic red tapes, loss
of goods, corruption and host of other problems. He also showed his concerns
regarding lack of data on trade between the two countries.

Abdul
Munir Yousafzai, Commercial Counselor at Afghan Embassy Islamabad informed that
both the countries have an annual trade of US 4.5 billion dollars out of which
US 2.5 billion dollars is legal trade while the rest is illegal.  He
complained of problems faced by Afghan traders such as delays in custom
clearing at Karachi and recent imposture of unjustified duties. He shared that
this situation is resulting in gradual diversion of Afghan trade to other
routes such as Charbagh in Iran and volumes have greatly decreased.

Mubarak
Zeb an eminent economic journalist clarified that reason of decline in volume
of Afghan Transit Trade is not the diversion of route, but because of increased
bi-lateral trade, where Afghanistan is increasingly importing goods from
Pakistan rather than importing from other countries.

He
said that trade relations between both the countries were always viewed in the
context of Afghan Transit Trade, and time has now come that we discuss it in an
overall trade perspective. He also presented some suggestion to reduce
smuggling in transt trade such as reduce tariff on smuggling prone items in
Pakistan and appointment of custom consular at Afghan dry ports to validate
reception of goods in Afghanistan.

Faiza
Nasir, Secretary General , Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce gave
an overview of the Afghan transit trade and argued that Pakistani transporters,
traders, clearing and insurance companies and businesses at large are suffering
more as compared to Afghan counterparts due to various hiccups of the system.
Citing example she informed that an Afghan trader can get multiple entry visa
into Pakistan within three days, without appearing in person and without
presenting any educational documents but on the other side even big Pakistani
investor companies suffer for weeks to get visas for their employees.  

Mian
Zahid Maqbool, Former President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce underline the
need to boost trade between the two countries from US $2.5 billion to $5
billion in the coming years.

Raja
Amir Ali, Former Vice President of Rawalpindi Chamber said that Pakistan and
Afghanistan should agree to set up an electronic data exchange system at the
border between the two nations.