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Af-Pak trade via Torkham further declines

Af-Pak trade via Torkham further declines

Apr 17, 2018 - 16:21

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials in eastern Nangarhar province on Tuesday said trade between Afghanistaninfo-icon and Pakistaninfo-icon through the Torkham border had further declined.

The fall was linked to problems Afghan traders faced in Pakistan, Torkham port officials told Pajhwok Afghan News. Trade between the two countries through the port slumped by 40 percent last year.

Four years back, commercial deals between Afghanistan and Pakistan amounted to $2 billion compared with $500 million. Truckers said they waited for days to find customers.

A border security official in Torkham, who wished to go unnamed, told Pajhwok up to 500 trucks loaded with goods entered Afghanistan on a daily basis a few months ago. But now the number has dropped to less than 300 trucks.

He said that sugar, flour and cement were the main imports from Pakistan. A few trucks of fresh fruits, vegetables and other goods were also imported into landlocked Afghanistan.

He added exports from Afghanistan through the port too had witnessed a fall. Currently, only slate, coal and a fewer truckloads of other items were exported to the neighbouring country.

Truckers say they had three to four trips weekly but now they have to be content with one or two trips. Samiullah, who transports cement from Pakistan to Afghanistan, could hardly find a customer in a week or two.

Nangarhar Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials say business between the two countries have worsened.

Shakirullah Safi, spokesman for the chamber, told Pajhwok the trade volume between Afghanistan and Pakistan was $2 billion four years ago. Now the amount has come down to $700 million.

He added the trade volume had further decreased in recent past to about $500 million. The inordinate attitude of Pakistani police toward Afghan traders in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and political tensions are the main factors behind dwindling trade.

If the Pakistan government continued such behavior with Afghan traders, it may lead to further reduction in trade, Safi warned.

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) accused Pakistan of halting exports to Afghanistan on different pretexts. Afghanistan could pay Pakistan in the same coin, he suggested.

The ACCI says Pakistan has asked for phytosanitary certificates from Afghan traders. However, he complained, Pakistan did not provide such certificates for its own products.

Khan Jan Alokozai, the ACCI deputy head, had told a press conference that Pakistan had imposed conditions on Afghan exports to that country over the last five months.

He warned Afghan farmers, who crops were going to ripen, would face serious problems over the next two months if the problem was not resolved.

Afghanistan exported 1.2 million metric tonness of agricultural products, including 800 tonnes to Pakistan, Alokozai said.

The deputy head of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, Daru Khan Achakzai, on Monday said tensions between the two countries and lack of reconstructioninfo-icon activities in Afghanistan had caused a decline in bilateral trade.

He said cement exports from Pakistan to Afghanistan had gone down because of limited reconstruction schemes in the war-torn country.

Bilateral tensions and problems the Afghan traders faced in the Pakistan have forced Afghan businessmen to open new corridors with Iran, Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries.



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