Pakistan, Afghan bilateral trade on decline in recent years

Bilateral trade volume between Kabul and Islamabad has seen an unremitting decline and this year trade volume has been at its lowest in recent years. Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it dropped from $3 billion to $500 million in four years. (AFP)
Updated 04 June 2018

Pakistan, Afghan bilateral trade on decline in recent years

  • Bilateral trade volume between Kabul and Islamabad has seen an unremitting fall and this year trade volume was $930 million till April 2018, the lowest in recent years.
  • Imposition of regulatory duty on imports, the return of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan have also affected trade.

PESHAWAR: Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has declined significantly in recent years, mainly because of disturbing political ties and some administrative issues related to commerce, a government official and a trade body office bearer told Arab News.
Trade with Afghanistan decreased from $3 billion to $500 million in 2018, Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Zahidullah Shinwari told Arab News.
Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Collector Customs Muhammad Saeed Jadoon agrees that the trade volume between both countries has decreased sharply, but the Government he has other (DOESN’T MAKE SENSE) figures to tell from the government records.
“Bilateral trade volume was $1.6 billion during 2014-15, $1.22 billion during 2015-16, $1 billion during 2016-17,” Jadoon said.
He added: “this year (trade volume was) $930 million till April 2018,” which clearly shows sharp decline.
“There are several reasons behind the deteriorating Afghan trade, including the imposition of regulatory duty on imports, the return of most of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan and the Af-Pak Transit Trade Agreement on which the chamber of commerce was not (??) taken onboard,” said Shinwari.
“In the presence of the NATO forces, almost 80 percent of our exports to Afghanistan included construction material and 20 percent used to be food items, but this trade decreased considerably when a big chunk of the US forces left Afghanistan, and the need for goods there also reduced,” he added.
Another issue, he said, was with quarantine certificates required for food items.
“It is exceedingly time-consuming to get quarantine certificates all the way from Karachi for the import of food items; and fresh fruit in particular goes rotten,” Shinwari added.
While agreeing about some legitimate concerns, Jadoon said: “Now fresh fruit was allowed to cross the border without quarantine certificates to prevent the food from perishing.”
Along with the issues mentioned above, another one preventing the trade process from taking place seamlessly is the visa policy.
“Either there shouldn’t be a visa policy for Afghan traders who have been interacting with our country for decades, or their visas should be provided to them on arrival at the border,” Shinwari said.
On the other hand, India is exporting its products through the Chabahar port in Iran, while imports are being transported via air.
“Iran and India have captured the market in Afghanistan because Afghan traders face numerous hurdles in Pakistan now,” he added.
Director of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ziaul Haq Sarhadi told Arab News that the recently launched Web-Based One Customs (WeBoc) system also delays trade from Pakistan.
But additional Collector Customs at Torkham border Ziaullah Shams told Arab News that the system brought transparency to trade activities with Afghanistan.
“The system has also helped eliminate any ‘gray area’ that may previously have existed,” Shams said.
A Peshawar-based analyst on economy, Riaz Khan Daudzai, said that tax barriers such as duty/levy and non-tax barriers such as geo-political situation have both affected trade with Afghanistan.
“India and Iran have capitalized on the poor relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he added.
Early this month a high-ranking ministerial delegation from Afghanistan led by Deputy Minister for Commerce Kamila Sidiqi had a meeting with Mohammad Younus Dagha, secretary commerce and officials at the Ministry of Commerce on May 8.
During the meeting, both sides expressed the desire to enhance trade relations between the two countries by overcoming existing challenges.
“It was agreed that the institutional mechanism between both the countries needs to be strengthened and the holding of the much awaited 7th Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority Meeting by the Afghan side was the need of the hour,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.
During the visit of Kamila Sidiqi both sides agreed that “the economy should not be linked with politics and business must continue to prosper as usual,” an official statement said.


Truck drives into US crowd protesting George Floyd killing, underscoring volatile situation

Updated 01 June 2020

Truck drives into US crowd protesting George Floyd killing, underscoring volatile situation

  • Protesters managed to stop the truck and beat up the driver, who was later arrested by police
  • A New York City Police car earlier drove into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with objects

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota: A tanker truck drove through thousands of people marching on a Minneapolis highway to protest the death of George Floyd on Sunday before protesters dragged the driver from the cab and beat him, according to a Reuters witness and authorities.
It did not appear any of the marchers were injured when the truck raced toward them on I-35, blowing its horn, sending protesters scattering before coming to a stop, according to the witness and a tweet by the Minnesota Department of Public Security (MNDPS).
Police arrived soon after and arrested the truck driver, who was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, MNDPS said.
Video of the incident shows protesters swarming the vehicle before it comes to a stop.

Protesters hand over to police the driver of a tanker truck after he drove into a crowd marching on 35W north bound highway in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 31, 2020. (REUTERS/Eric Miller)

“The incident just underscores the volatile situation we have out there,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz told a news conference, adding he did not know the motives of the driver.
It marked the second incident in as many days of a vehicle driving at people protesting Floyd’s death after a New York City Police car was captured on video on Saturday driving into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with objects.
“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” MNDPS tweeted.
Video showed the truck had a logo on its side for “Kenan Advantage Group,” an Ohio-based transportation company.
The company said in a statement that it was informed of an incident involving one of its independent contractors in Minneapolis and it would be cooperating with investigating authorities.
MNDPS did not identify the driver but said the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were investigating the incident as a criminal matter.