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Call for forum on trade issues with neighbours

Call for forum on trade issues with neighbours

Mar 05, 2011 - 19:38

KABULinfo-icon(PANinfo-icon): Traders underlined on Saturday the need for an international conference to urge Afghanistaninfo-icon's neighbours to put an end to trade transit problems with the landlocked country.

Such a conference should discuss Afghanistan's transit problems with Iran and Pakistaninfo-icon, said Khan Jan Alakozay, the deputy head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, he also urged the Afghan government to seek help from the international community, particularly the United Nations, in overcoming the problem.

The Iranian government imposed an oil embargo on Afghanistan three months ago, he said, adding the problem was solved when Tehran allowing the shipment of 93,000 tonnes of fuel to Afghanistan.

However, he said Iran had refused to allow new fuel shipments into Afghanistan ever since. Tehran wants Afghan traders to buy Iranian fuel; otherwise, it will not allow Afghanistan-bound tankers to go through its territory.

"On the one hand, Iran wants us to purchase its fuel and on the other, it says the cost will be $100 (4,500 afghani) higher per tonne than the international market price," he said.

Fuel prices have risen sharply over the past one and a half year after unrest in major Arabic countries started. Before the crisis, one barrel of fuel cost $80 (3,600afs) and now it has soared to $118.

Additionally, some 6,000 Afghanistan-bound goods trucks have been stranded in Pakistan's port city of Karachi for the past two days. Pakistani authorities say the goods are resold in Pakistan by Afghan traders.

But Alakozay, rejecting the claim as false, asked how it was possible when a Pakistan company was responsible for shipping those goods. He accused Iran and Pakistan of flouting international trade laws.

Head of Afghanistan National Traders Union, Hotak, also backed idea of an international conference. "The government did make efforts but failed. Hopefully, an international conference will resolve the problem."

Head of Fuel Management Department at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Ahmad Farid, confirmed that Iran had blocked new fuel shipments to Afghanistan.

However, he said, the ministry was trying to sort out the problem with Iran through diplomatic channels. Despite efforts, Pajhwok could not contact Iranian and Pakistani embassy officials in Kabul.


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