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LAHORE: Taking a giant leap towards promotion of trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PAJCCI) and Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Investment (ACCI).

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir, Chairman PAJCCI Zubair Motiwala, Co-President ACCI Khan Jan Alokzai and Vice President Sultan M Safi inked the MOU in the presence of LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and LCCI executive committee members. Former FPCCI and LCCI President Mian Anjum Nisar specially attended the meeting on a special request.

According to the MoU, LCCI, PJCCI and ACCI would collaborate to develop a framework of cooperation and undertake actions aimed at strengthening the bilateral trade and relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The LCCI nominee will become a member of PAJCCI and will act as a director on the Advisory Board and will facilitate the collaboration among the stakeholders.

PAJCCI Zubair Motiwala said that Afghanistan is a landlocked country and we are bound to give way to it in accordance with the international laws. He said that poverty in Afghanistan can be eradicated through business. He added that fiscal reforms are direly needed in Afghanistan.

Zubair Motiwala said that trade in local currencies is allowed but Exim Bank must be established at the border to make the mutual trade mother. He said that the government should introduce a separate policy for Afghan investors.

He further stated that a system of mediation arbitration is very important. He also called for exchange of trade delegation between the two countries and promotion of medical tourism. He urged the businessmen of the two countries to step into joint ventures in various sectors of economy.

Co-President ACCI Khan Jan Alokzai and Vice President Sultan M Safi said that export from Afghanistan to India through Wagah border has been allowed. He said that Afghanistan has given permission to Pakistan to import gas from Central Asian States to Pakistan through Afghanistan.

They said that Pak-Afghan political relations were strained in past which affected the mutual trade that fell from $ 3 billion to 1.1 billion. They said that Pak-Afghan relations were strained between previous governments, which affected trade and fell from $ 3 billion to 1.1 billion. They said that Taliban government wants to trade with the regional countries.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoy warm and cordial diplomatic relations. There have been many testing times in history but Pakistan always stood with Afghani brothers. Both countries are not only good neighbours but also members of SAARC and OIC.

He said that Afghanistan is one of the major trading partners of Pakistan. It has been top exporting market for Pakistani products since ages. Afghanistan comes at 7th place among the top exporting countries and at 21st place among the top importing countries for Pakistan in the world.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that the balance of trade has traditionally been in favour of Pakistan whereas the volume of trade in terms of value between Afghanistan and Pakistan averages around 1.16 billion dollars.

The LCCI president said that according to the State Bank of Pakistan, the worth of Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan was around US 983 million dollars against the imports amounting to US 179 million dollars in 2020-21. During the first six months of current financial year (Jul-Dec 2021-22), Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan accounted for US 240 million dollars and imports from Afghanistan stood around US 90 million dollars.

He added that the Afghani delegates belong to key areas like construction, pharmaceutical, hardware, steel, hoteling, food, auto parts, fabric, oultry, coal, plastic materials, tea, chicken feeds, fresh fruits and vegetable etc, and they are interested to find some suitable companies in Pakistan to work with. Hopefully, the B2B meetings will prove fruitful for everyone.

Mian Nauman Kabir mentioned the LCCI has already signed a number of MOUs with leading chambers of commerce from various countries.

“To further enhance the process of flow of information, we should regularly keep liaison with each other and also collaborate for exchanging trade delegations”, he said and added that our respective Chambers of Commerce can play the vital role in this connection. The LCCI president hoped that this MoU will guide us well in making the right strategy for moving forward.

Mian Anjum Nisar stressed for a foolproof mechanism to promote bilateral trade and investment. He called for exchange of trade delegations between the two countries.

The delegation also visited various departments of LCCI including the services being offered to the LCCI members including Passport Office, ID Card Office, E-Sahulat Markaz, FBR, LESCO, WASA, Traffic Police, Excise & Taxation, FTO and others.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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