KARACHI: National Business Group Pakistan chairman and Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum president Mian Zahid Hussain said the potential of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan is $10 billion but it has been reduced to a few million dollars.
The trade is to shrink further due to problems faced by exporters which will also hit trade with central Asian countries, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said now Afghanistan has started importing cement, steel bars, ghee, cooking oil, rice, gur, medicines, and other items from Iran, India, and Central Asian states which has greatly reduced the share of Pakistani products in the Afghan market.
Talking to the representatives of Khyber and Waziristan Chamber of Commerce, the veteran business leader said red tape, the indifference of authorities, and corruption at border points has damaged Pakistani exports. It takes weeks to clear export consignments and now the clearance of trucks and containers has been stopped.
On the occasion, office bearers of different chamber of commerce of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said the central bank has recently amended foreign exchange rules after which banks have withdrawn facility of 'cash over the counter' and stopped issuing E form to the exporters resulting is suspension of trade with Afghanistan through land route.
The development has been damaging small exporters of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while the remaining trade is also shifting to other countries.
He said the banking system in Afghanistan is weak, law and order situation is not satisfactory, therefore, it was the only country for which trade-related transactions were allowed through non-banking channels but now the facility has been withdrawn which is hitting trade. He said thousands of containers are stuck at border awaiting clearance which has also stopped exports to central Asia.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021