Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that Pakistan is working on the prospects of export-led investment flows from Pakistan to Afghanistan and the volume of bilateral trade will be doubled in the next two years.

The Minister made these remarks while chairing a meeting to discuss the prospects to maintain sustainable Pak-Afghan trade relations after the new government took charge in Kabul. This was also a preparatory meeting before the 5th Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) meeting to be held on 2-3 January in which the Tajik officials are also invited for talks on a Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement.

The meeting was attended by Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, former Governor State bank of Pakistan, senior officers from Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and researchers from Institute of Business Administration and Sustainable Policy Development Institute. During the meeting, the Minister said that Pakistan is very much interested in developing the nascent manufacturing sector of Afghanistan through export-ed investment which will be expanded to Tajikistan and then to the rest of Central Asia. Pakistan is looking towards West for enhancing trade opportunities and Afghanistan is looking towards East for a consistent trading partner, therefore, the priorities of the two Governments have converged and both Governments have showed firm resolve to remove hurdles in the way of trade and investment, the Minister said. He apprised the meeting that the MoC is keen to develop Torkham border post connecting Quetta to Qandhar and Chaman post connecting Peshawar to Jalalabad and Kabul.

For this purpose, Land Port Authority will be constituted which will upgrade Pakistan’s existing border posts on modern lines. The meeting discussed proposals to resolve the issues of Customs clearance, insurance of trucks and containers, tracking system of trucks, currency swap, role of SRO’s, lack of extensive credit facility from banks to traders and tax refunds.

The meeting was informed that Pakistan is the largest trading partner of Afghanistan providing 21pc of Afghanistan’s imports and buying 30.7pc of Afghanistan’s exports. Major exports from Pakistan include cement, salt, construction material, products of milling industry, cereals, sugar, confectionary and animals while imports include cotton, coal, vegetables, raw skins, carpets and textile floor coverings.

Since 2009, Afghanistan’s GDP increased at 9 percent exhibiting rapid economic growth and it has the potential to grow at a consistent growth rate of 6-7pc till 2025. The Government is quantifying the magnitude of opportunities and removing the infrastructural and procedural hurdles in the way of trade and investment in Afghanistan.