20pc cut in Afghan transit trade via Pakistan
JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Afghan traders on Monday said they had reduced by 20 percent imports of commercial goods via Pakistan due to problems they faced in the neighbouring country. But Pakistani traders also complain about hardships they encounter in Afghanistan.
These views were expressed at a joint sitting of Afghan and Pakistani traders in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province. Representatives from the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry held the meeting.
Nangarhar Governor Attaullah Ludin, police chief Brig. Gen. Fazl Ahmad Sherzad and Pakistan Consul General in Jalalabad Habibur Rahman Chaudri were also present.
ACCI Deputy Chief Executive Khan Jan Alokozai complained Afghan traders were asked at five locations from the port city of Karachi to Torkham for taxes on cargo.
He said each Afghan container reaching Kabul from the Karachi sea port cost $5,000, compared with $3,500 via Iran. “That’s why Afghan traders have reduced by 20 percent their trade activity via Pakistan and have shifted their focus to Iran.”
He added the decline in Afghan transit trade had left Pakistan concerned and trying to convince Afghan entrepreneurs into continuing their trade through the country.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Zahid Khan Shinwari said Pakistani traders also faced a number of problems in Afghanistan.
He listed the problems the Pakistanis faced in Afghanistan as the imposition of taxes on Pakistani products, the denial of long-term visas and projects to Pakistani traders and problems they faced in transportation of their goods.
Shinwari criticised governments of the two countries for linking trade with politics and hoped the two countries would not sacrifice trade for their political gains.
He said Pakistan had given leadership of the chamber of commerce to someone who lacked information about Afghanistan. “If Pashtuns are not given greater representation in the chamber of commerce, we will independently deepen trade contacts with Nangarhar.”
Governor Ludin told Pajhwok Afghan News his administration would pave the ground for Pakistani traders to do businesses in Nangarhar, saying the Pakistanis could launch ventures in the province.
“On this stage, I call on Pakistani traders to come and invest in Nangarhar. We are in your service,” said the governor, who urged the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) to give Pakistani traders plots in industrial parks.
Police chief Sherzad promised tireless efforts in providing security to both Afghan and Pakistani traders in Nangarhar.
Afghan and Pakistani traders discussed their problems at a time when foreign investors are reluctant to do businesses in Afghanistan in the wake of foreign troops’ drawdown by the end of this year.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.