PAJCCI’s calls for long term, sustainable trade with Afghanistan

PESHAWAR – Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) held a meeting of stakeholders of Pak-Afghan trade here in provincial metropolis, a city most closely connected to Afghanistan not only in culture and language but also geographically.

The meeting chaired by Vice President PAJCCI, Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi calls on long term and sustainable trade with Afghanistan as the only way to mutal prosperity and economic stability in Pakistan. The meeting was attended by Engineer Said Mahmood; Vice Chairman Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment & Trade and Honorary Consul General for The Republic of Tajikistan, Arbab Qaiser; Director Transit Trade, Amanatullah; AC Transit Trade, Muhammad Tayyab; AC Customs, Col Aziz Khattak; GM NLC BTS KP, large number of business community members from Swat, Kurram, Khyber, Sarhad & Mohmand Chamber of Commerce & Industries, senior officials from Pakistan Customs, National Logistic Cell, Transit Trade, TDAP along with local and national level Media.

Zia Sarhadi informed the forum about continuous efforts of PAJCCI and its Chairman, Zubair Motiwala and Co-Chairman, Khan Jan Alokozai; both of them have not only provided insights to the government officials but have been instrumental in raising voice of business community to the level of respective premiers. Secretary General PAJCCI; Faiza, shared the quarterly updates, recent issuance of TAD SRO, written third party payment process by State Bank of Pakistan, formation of border committee at Chaman on similar lines as Torkham for quick resolution of issues, extension of E-From & EIF waiver for further 45 days from 1st July 2022.

The current trade barriers like SRO for cross stuffing, processing of sales tax refund and duty draw back claims in case of land and PKR trading are in process and PAJCCI is in constant communication with relevant authorities. Responding to various questions regarding Barter Trade, she informed that joint forum at 9th FGD meeting has agreed upon all components of barter trade mechanism as an additional trading tool, a project monitoring matrix has been designed with action items, responsibility and timelines which will have oversight by AICC, Ministry of Commerce and PAJCCI as lead chamber. The draft proposal has been submitted to Ministry of Commerce on 17th June 2022 for onwards governmental approvals and endorsement. In addition, PAJCCI is also working with Ministry of Commerce to add more items in PKR trading category to bypass foreign currency crunch faced by both countries.

Engineer Said Mahmood (VC KPBOIT) appreciated the efforts of PAJCCI on behalf of business community and  provided a detailed overview of historic relationship with Afghanistan especially of bilateral trade and potential of transit trade via Afghanistan to CAR. He highlighted ongoing issues of congestion at Torkham, decreasing trade volume due to lack of cohesive & consistent trade policy with Afghanistan. The economic and trade policy especially with near most neighbor shall be above any political changes in either country, shall be long term and sustainable. He said Pakistan shall not lose neighborly trade and economic relationship due to cost effective & efficient trading potential having high demand for Pakistani products and due to unique geographical location dependent on Pakistan for bilateral and transit trade.

In addition, PAJCCI also working with Ministry of Commerce to add more items in PKR trading category to bypass foreign currency crunch faced by both countries

The participants provided input on all issues related to KP border crossings and suggestions to resolution were also discussed. The top most issue came in discussion is congestion at Torkham resulting in clearance of containers after 15-20 days due to small operational matters and multiple security checks on both sides. If there is delay in clearance payment by one transporter then rest are also held up, congestion due to single road, dual carriage way is demanded since long by business community however there has been no positive development on this front. The bank branches at Kurram & Miranshah have top ceiling of PKR 40 Mn a day which shall be increased to at least 120 Mn per day to ensure that payments are processed in line with ongoing trade volume.

At present Afghan government has held milk and pharmaceutical product import from Pakistan without assigning reasons. The low usage of dry port facilities at Azakhel and use of Pakistan Railways was also discussed. Participants appreciated that operationalization of TAD will bring relief to transporters and trading community of both sides with assurance of legal trade flourishing & proper tracking of trade support eco-system. The finalization of destuffing and cross stuffing is still under process due to complex nature of requirements however once operational it will greatly reduce the cost of business, safety of cargo till destination, reduction in congestion and delays. The house appreciated the PAJCCI’s initiative to launch the support fund for recent Afghan earthquake affected people and agreed to make contributions.

 

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