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LAHORE: President of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kashif Anwar has said that despite the historical socio-economic relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the trade volume does not reflect the potential, adding that joint and concrete steps must be taken to boost mutual trade.

He expressed these views while addressing Afghan trade delegation, led by Board Member Afghanistan Chamber and Co-President Pakistan Afghanistan Chamber Khan Jan Alokozai, at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Other members of the delegation included Ajmal Safi, Babrak Akbare, Gharibullah, Naqibullah Safi, Muhammad Saleem Afghan, Muhammad Tahir Safi, Essa Khan and Qais Safi.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that the visit of the Afghan trade delegation is important. There must be good trade relations with neighboring countries because the right of neighbors is first. He said that exchange of trade delegation between the two countries is important. He said that understanding each other’s culture also increases the trade. He said that the information technology sector in Pakistan is developing with every passing day.

Kashif Anwar said that the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan is $522 million, which has room for improvement. If banking channels are established between the two countries, the trade volume can increase manifold. He said that there is potential to increase trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the fields of pharmaceuticals, carpets, rice, auto parts and others. He said that recently Ministry of Commerce has issued SRO for Barter System which will promote mutual trade.

The head of the Afghan delegation, Khan Jan Alokozai, said that they are willing to increase trade with Pakistan. Both countries need each other now more than ever. He said that there is potential to increase economic activities in this region. He said that 70% of trade between the two countries is done through Lahore, from where pharmaceuticals, rice, auto parts and other items are exported to Afghanistan.

He said that transit trade is important for Afghan exports. Pakistan is exporting to Central Asia through Afghanistan and most of it is from Punjab and Lahore. He said that currently 5 lakh metric tons of fresh fruit is going to Central Asia from Pakistan through Afghanistan. He said that there is a need for stability in the region. If the two countries are linked, South Asia and Central Asia will also be connected.

He said that Afghanistan can take Pakistan’s exports to Russia while raw materials from Central Asia can be delivered to Pakistan. Afghanistan has economic stability after recent political changes and peace. He said that Afghanistan is promoting its private sector. Political instability between the two countries affects mutual trade. Due to this reason, Pakistan’s market share has shifted to Iran and the mutual trade between Afghanistan and Iran has exceeded $3 billion.

The delegation urged Pakistani investors to invest in Afghanistan as Pakistanis can work in mining and other sectors with ownership rights while investors from other countries are required to have an Afghan national with them.

There should also be a plan for reconciliation between the two countries, on which the president of Lahore Chamber said that Lahore Chamber has also established an Alternate Dispute Resolution Center which is playing an important role in resolving business disputes.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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