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KARACHI: The Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) has called for immediate waiver of Electronic Import Form (EIF) and E-Form for six months to avoid a halt in Pak-Afghan trade and transit.

Despite the US relaxation in sanctions for facilitating commercial transactions with Afghanistan, correspondent and commercial banks are shying away from engaging with Afghanistan. The resultant misery faced by business communities across the border has increased manifold.

The PAJCCI has been trying to get the much-needed relaxation in rules, but the latest waiver will expire on April 30.

In a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the PAJCCI office-bearers again described the devastating effects caused by banking limitation, suspension of cash on counter facility and crunch of foreign exchange, which are aggravated by the requirement of EIF and E-Form and which should be suspended till an alternative mechanism is in place or at least for six months.

The FBR, MoC and senior government functionaries had earlier agreed that in the absence of viable barter trade mechanism the requirement of E-Form and EIF for trade with Afghanistan may be waived for a further six months to ensure that trade does not suffer and revenue arrives in national treasury. However, although the deadline is approaching fast the awaited notification has yet to be issued and this is causing uncertainty and distress.

The PAJCCI strongly urged the authorities to act with priority because due to the closure of two important border crossings, congestion is already affecting business activities, especially during the season of Afghanistan’s exports. The suspension of waiver will significantly amplify the problem on both sides of the border.

In addition, the barter trade committee still remains to be notified; once that happens only then can deliberations be initiated for developing an alternative mechanism. It is important to note that the barter committee for the Afghan side was formed in March 2022 and it has already initiated discussions under the leadership of Khan Jan Alokozai, the co-chairman of PAJCCI.

Zubair Motiwala, the chairman of PAJCCI, fears that lack of focus and delayed action will increase difficulties, loss of revenue and suspension of trading activities with Afghanistan.

He said that PAJCCI has relentlessly worked to build trade with Afghanistan especially after August 2021, which has picked up pace and is contributing to livelihood of people living in border areas and bringing much required revenue to national treasury.

However, such problems will not only affect bilateral but also transit trade with CARs and beyond, especially during the Eid season on both sides of the border.

The PAJCCI firmly believes that coordinated action by the government with involvement of the business community will stabilise the economic situation not only in Pakistan but in the region, which is the need of the hour and will eventually benefit Pakistan in this difficult time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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