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KARACHI: Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan and President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum Mian Zahid Hussain has emphasized that the government should establish special economic zones at Torkhum and Chaman, reduce smuggling, encourage documented trade, improve infrastructure, reach Central Asia through Afghanistan and sign agreements in the light of new situations.

Such moves will help the Pakistani economy and boost economic activities in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said.

He was of the view that the government should not ignore the lucrative Afghan market. Massive opportunities including reconstruction projects are awaiting Pakistan following the troops’ withdrawal but the openings have failed to attract the full attention of policymakers, he said.

Mian Zahid said that continued hike in prices of construction material, edible items, and other things may force the Afghan government and importers to start imports from other regional countries despite an inclination towards Pakistan.

He said that the Government should have prepared a strategy to capture the market as soon as the signs of withdrawal appeared but it was not taken seriously. Rather, some elements are damaging the existing trade through Torkhum which should be noticed, he added.

He said that Afghanistan is rich in resources like copper, gold, oil, natural gas, uranium, bauxite, coal, iron ore, rare earths, chromium, lead, zinc, gemstones, talc, sulphur, travertine, gypsum, and marble worth trillions of dollars, awaiting exploration.

A US report has dubbed Afghanistan as ‘Saudi Arabia of lithium’ used to manufacture batteries but nobody seems interested in it at home while countries have started to struggle to bank on the opportunity.

He said that Pakistan banks have never taken interest in expanding their network in the neighbouring country, resulting in reduced documented trade which should be considered by the central bank.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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