PESHAWAR: Trade potential between Pakistan and Afghanistan is much higher than estimated. However, non-tariff barriers (NTBs), smuggling of goods and other hurdles on both sides continue to impede growth in bilateral trade.
It is need of the hour to make serious efforts to reduce all those impediments, which are hindering bilateral trade ties between the two neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This was the crux of deliberations at a meeting of the second post-Afghanistan visit review committee, held at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade (KP-BoIT) office.
Senator Mohsin Aziz, who is the chairman of the committee, presided over the meeting, which was also attended by other members include Dr Tariq Khan, Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, Fazle Hanan, Faud Ishaq, Engr Said Mahmud, Iskandar Khan, and Rohullah Khan.
The meeting thoroughly reviewed the recommendations and proposals presented in the previous proceedings of the meeting, and agreed upon most of the points with certain amendments. It was said that smuggling of manufactured products of the two countries, higher-tariff, non-availability of common facilitation for importers and exporters, lengthy procedure of clearance of goods’ consignments, extorting of speed money and irritants in issuance of various categories’ visas were major impediments to the trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The meeting suggested that both the countries should streamline their customs procedures, remove specific duties and engage constantly for better understanding of regulatory regimes.
Moreover, better rail connectivity and mechanisms for joint ventures without physical presence of the businessmen in the other country were also suggested by the participants. Senator Mohsin Aziz told the meeting that trade and investment with Afghanistan could enhance exponentially. He, however, emphasised to make a strong case for reduction in non-tariff barriers and other impediments. He said there is much potential to give boost in existing trade volume between two-neighboring countries, if both sides should make concerted efforts for removal of common hurdles to trade ties, he stressed. He expressed hope that impediments to Pak-Afghan trade would be removed to strengthen bilateral trade.
Aziz, who is also vice chairman of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade, said that it was essential to improve trade relations with regional countries. Therefore, he emphasised that both sides should hold joint deliberations to remove impediments to the Pakistan and Afghanistan trade.