LAHORE - Smuggling is obstructing the legal trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This issue should be tackled through rationalizing and removing the tariff barriers.

This was stated by Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry Secretary General Faiza Zubair while talking to the LCCI Acting President Khawaja Khawar Rashid, Vice President Zeshan Khalil and Executive Committee Members here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Awais Saeed Piracha, Fahim-ur-Rehamn Saigol and Lala Pervez were also present on the occasion.

She said that smuggling should be eliminated with iron hands as it is equally destructive for the both countries. She said that Regulatory Duty imposed by Afghanistan on Pakistani goods is 400 times more than RD imposed by Pakistan on Afghani products. She said that mutual trade cannot grow in the presence of such duty structure. She further stated that there is a need of an Export House for check and balance which will check the quality specifications of export goods of both countries before full payments to overcome trust deficit.

She said that Afghan businessman love to work in Lahore. They need support of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry for working here. There are some hotel reservation issues in Lahore. A comprehensive proposal from the LCCI is required about bilateral trade problems and their solutions in Afghanistan and Central Asia. She said economically and socially we can resolve the political issues of the two countries. That's why we are going to arrange a grand combine meeting of all chambers of Pakistan very soon to discuss the export issue of the countries.

The LCCI Acting President Khawaja Khawar Rashid said that bilateral relation between Pakistan and Afghanistan are very important for the peace and development in the region. If the relations between the both are not good due to some internal or external reasons, it directly affects our bilateral trade and transit trade.

He said that Pakistan is the best option for exports and imports for Afghanistan. He said that in 2010-11, the total volume of Transit Trade was $3.8 billion which was exceeded to $3.5billion in 2015-16. In 2016-17 with a decline the trade volume remain $2.9 billion. But hopefully it would be $3 billion by the end of 2017-18.

He said that Pakistan's exports to Afghanistan are wheat, sucrose, soap, tea, footwear, carpets, paper & paperboard, pharmaceutical goods etc. Major imports from Afghanistan to Pakistan are carpets, textile floor covering (knotted), seeds of anise, guts/bladders/stomachs of animals etc.

The LCCI Vice President Zeshan Khalil said that exchanges of businessmen delegations can produce better results in improving the trade links between two countries.

He said there is a dire need to develop people to people contacts. He said that there are issues that need resolution and the two states are working together to find solutions to these problems. This includes possible defence cooperation and intelligence sharing as well as further enhancing the two-way trade and abolishment of visas for diplomats from the two nations.