ISSN 2330-717X

Trade Only Way Out For Afghanistan Economy – OpEd

By

United States and NATO forces hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan gave a negative setback to Afghanistan economy. We put the blame of this humanitarian crisis and fragile afghan economy to those countries that imposed war on people of Afghanistan. Now, citizens of Afghanistan and its government are hoping on international community to come up for the help to save this human made crisis. 

Advertisement

Afghanistan is facing two main crisis at this point of time, first one is the lack of financial assistance from world to tackle humanitarian crisis and second is the recognition of Taliban government by international community.   

Pakistan and Afghanistan are among each other’s largest trading partners. Bilateral trade between both nations is the need of the hour for economic survival.Businessmen and economists have stressed that it is time for Pakistan to see Afghanistan from a geo-economic angle instead of only looking at the neighboring country from the lens of geopolitics.

“It is time to regain the lost share in the market of Afghanistan,” said Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) Vice President Ahmad Jawad. “Pakistan must immediately resume trade with Afghanistan from Torkham and Chaman.”

He cautioned that the country could not afford to suspend trade ties in the wake of evolving situation in Afghanistan because majority of the exporters based in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are linked to Afghan trade. He pointed out that the volume of annual bilateral trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which was over $5 billion at one point in time, has fallen to just $1 billion.

Pakistan should normalize trade relation with Afghanistan, it is time to eliminate food shortage and cash deficit in the Afghanistan which is possible only with the continuity of transit trade.

Advertisement

Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2010 had signed Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) agreement which expired in February 2021. Both countries had given an extension to it till 11 May 2022. Islamabad and Kabul are looking to revise the APTTA, as Pakistan wanted to include Central Asian States and the former Afghan government wanted India to be part of it. Now, until the revised APTTA is not signed, the earlier agreement will be in place.

Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) Chairman Zubair Motiwala said, “The trade volume between the two countries should reach $5 billion, but due to the absence of a banking system in Afghanistan, payments through third countries are not possible.”  The commerce ministry spokesperson said that Pakistani exports to Central Asian countries through Afghanistan have risen by 70 percent to $202 million in the last 11 months from $118 million in the same period last year.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have to improve trade facilitation through streamlined payments settlement and improved insurance mechanisms, the use of bonded carriers, visa issuance, trade financing, tax collection, and documentation.

After returning from his first trip to Kabul last year,  Former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced few steps at a press conference to enhance cooperation between two countries, it includes visa on arrival facility was announced for sick Afghans coming here for treatment and business persons. Pakistan embassy in Kabul has been given authority to grant five-year multiple entry visas to Afghan businessmen. 

Cargo movement through the border crossings would now continue 24 hours a day. Afghan trucks would, meanwhile, be allowed to carry goods up to Karachi port, whereas Pakistani truckers would be able to travel into Afghanistan with their cargoes. Islamabad has also allowed duty free import of fruits and vegetables from Afghanistan. Mr Qureshi said these steps would cause ease for the Afghans, besides promoting trade. 

It is a fact that if Peace and stability comes to Afghanistan, it will give boost to economic growth, economic engagement and interaction for both countries.  Islamabad and Kabul will benefit once there is peace and when the dust settles on the other side of the border. 

Ahsan Zaheer is a freelance journalist and Islamabad based analyst. You can reach author at: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.