PESHAWAR                 -          Traders and exporters of Pakistan and Afghanistan via a joint video link conference here identified bottlenecks in the way of Pak-Afghan mutual trade, transit trade and exports.

They termed the complicated regulations and procedures, strict policies and cumbersome goods clearing process the main reason behind the declining trade volume between the two countries. The conference was organized by USAID – Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Activity (PREIA) in collaboration with the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) here at the Chamber House. The participants called upon Islamabad and Kabul to make joint initiatives and efforts to remove hurdles in the way of bilateral trade, transit trade and export between the two neighbouring countries.

They opined that a lot of potential existed in the Afghanistan market, which should be availed to meet the mutual trade target of $5 billion.

The joint conference was chaired by Sarhad Chamer of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Engineer Maqsood Anwar Pervaiz and Senior Vice President Shahid Hussain performed duties as moderator.

Besides, the SCCI, Pak-Afghan Joint Chambers of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) former senior vice president, and Frontier Customs Agents Association President Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, PAJCCI Pakistan chapter Chairman, Zubair Motiwala, Secretary General Ms Faiza, PAJCCI Afghanistan chapter chairman, Khan Jan Alokozay, Younis Mohmand from Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, representative of Kandahar chamber, Haji Daud, former FPCCI president Engr Daroo Khan Achakzai, representative of PREIA, Salman Farooq, office bearers of Chaman, Kabul, Jalalabad and Kahandar chambers of commerce and industry,  Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pak-Afghan transporters, along with representatives of business community from both the countries pointed out the hindrances in way of the mutual Pak-Afghan trade, transit trade and export. The speakers said the bilateral trade volume had declined exponentially because of complicated regulations and procedures, strict policies and cumbersome goods clearing process at ports and borders that has heightened problems of traders, exporters and importers.

“If the policies were not reviewed by Islamabad and Kabul, the bilateral trade volume, which currently stood at less than $1 billion, would reduce more,” they warned.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, they said, the traders on both sides of the border had faced colossal monetary losses, demanding special relief packages in terms of waiver on regulatory duties and customs levies for exporters and importers. The speakers demanded to review the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and remove apprehensions of traders from both sides and sign a new agreement in consultation with the business community.

The participants expressed concern over snail process of goods trucks/containers clearing at Torkham, Chaman, Ghulam Khan and Kharlachi border points as well as scanning process at Karachi port due to lack of adequate and sufficient facilities because of which exporters were being charged with additional demurrage and detention charges.

At the end of the meeting, the participants fully agreed with suggestions and recommendations and decided to forward them through USAID PRIEA to the both governments, ministries and departments concerned in order to implement them with letter and spirit to resolve traders’ issues on both sides of the borders amicably.