KARACHI - Members of the Pak-Afghan Joint Committee have underscored the need to effectively deal with the bottlenecks in trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan that has decreased to $1.5 billion in 2015 and continues to fall 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. They said it would be done when business communities of both countries would work together and play the role of a strong bridge by bringing people of the two countries closer.

Siraj Kassam Teli, chairman of the Businessmen Group and former president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce Industry (KCCI); KCCI President Shamim Ahmed Firpo, MNA Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, former Afghanistan deputy minister for trade and commerce Mozammil Shinwari, former Pakistan ambassador Mian Sanaullah, Adviser to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defence Wazhma Frogh and others were present at the meeting.

The delegation members said that bottlenecks in Pakistan-Afghanistan trade could easily be removed if the two sides act diligently and honestly. They expressed concern over delay in clearance of Afghanistan-bound goods and said that many Pakistani suppliers were exporting substandard goods to Afghanistan, particularly pharma products. This is another major reason for the falling trade between the two countries, they said.

“Due to low quality of goods being supplied by Pakistani companies, Afghan people avoid them,” said Wazhma Frogh. She said that this issue had to be addressed to stop the trade volume from dipping further.

Teli welcomed the delegates and said that economic relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan were more important than political relations hence the business communities of both sides must look for opportunities to strengthen the existing trade ties. This must be done on a fast-track basis, he said.

Extending his full support and cooperation to members of the Pak-Afghan Joint Committee, Teli said the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry was trying to improve relations between the two countries and it would be more than happy to fully support and cooperate with the Joint Committee, which had been formed to improve trade relations and people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

“In this regard, the Karachi Chamber is ready to appoint a focal person to assist and respond to any inquiries from members of the Pak-Afghan Joint Committee. This will improve linkages and help deal with various issues,” he said.

He said, “The Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry is being successfully run by some of our friends from the KCCI and this has brought the business communities of the two countries closer to each other.

Earlier, KCCI President Shamim Firpo welcomed the Pak-Afghan Joint Committee members and said that Pakistan’s exports declined to $1,230 million in 2016, while imports stood at $41 million. He said that these figures did not depict the actual trade volume between the two countries.