ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce is intended to press the government to hold talks with Afghanistan to resolve issues barring Pakistani exporters from direct exports to Central Asian Republics (CARs).
Currently Pakistani exporters have to export their goods to Afghan importers who export these onwards to CARs. The Ministry wants the government to take up the issue with Afghan government to increase the trade volume with CARs to $15 billion.
Reliable sources told Customs Today that the Ministry of Commerce wanted the government should hold dialogue with Afghan government to eliminate all the impediments hampering direct export of Pakistani products to CARs.
“Hopefully the Commerce Minister will take up the issue with the Prime Minister once the prevailing political impasse is resolved” expressed an official on condition of anonymity.
“Once issues are resolved and Pakistani exporters are provided with facility of direct exports to CARs, the volume of Pakistani exports to these countries will cross the figure of $15 billion” the source said.
Initially, the source added that Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir had constituted an intra-departmental committee comprising senior officials of the Commerce Ministry, representatives of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan Customs (PC) and representatives of the business community from provinces adjacent to Afghanistan to resolve their internal issues which hindered exports to CAC via Afghanistan.
The source informed that the committee would examine the process of Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia and suggest proposals to remove all impediments hindering growth of regional trade. The committee will bring all stakeholders to gather for unanimous decisions in this regard.
It is to be noted that Pakistan had taken a lead in forming the ECO comprising ten regional states by including the Central Asian States to the group of Iran, Turkey and Pakistan following their liberation from Russia. However, the trade volume could not be increased in accordance with the potential of these states. The trade between Pakistan and Central Asian states declined from a total of $81.19 million in 1997 to just $20.16 million in 2003, and with slight increase in (2008-009) but still a fraction of its true potential, is only $45.3 million. This decline was result of unavailability of direct land routes and unabated unrest and violence in Afghanistan.
There are enormous opportunities for Pakistan to establish strong trade and economic links with CACs as their fast growing market offers tremendous potential for consumer goods like textiles and light engineering products.
Some estimates even suggested that the region had a potential market worth $80 billion and if Pakistan secures even 5 percent of this market, it can earn up to $4 billion a year in garments, agriculture auto parts, food products and other sectors. Afghanistan’s total trade with the Central Asian Republics amounted to $1,244 million and Afghanistan’s trade with Pakistan reached to $1.9 billion in the fiscal year 2009-10.