‘Exports to Afghanistan to reach $5bn in 3 years’

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood has said that the government had set a target of $5 billion in exports to Afghanistan during the next three years.

“Pak-Afghanistan trade has three dimensions including transit trade, bilateral trade and informal trade, which not only need to be documented but also modernised with infrastructure for smooth functioning,” the PM’s advisor on commerce told APP.

Replying to a question, he informed that informal trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan was $2billion in 2019 whereas both sides have prospects to enhance bilateral trade volume.

He said that the government had prioritised to document bilateral trade between the two countries to evolve a data sharing mechanism for ensuring transparency.

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The advisor said that there was a need to improve trade facilitation through streamlined payments settlement and improved insurance mechanisms, use of bonded carriers, visa issuance, trade financing, tax collection, and documentation.

“Specifically, there must be an internationally acceptable mode of payments,” he added.

Razak Dawood said that trade could further strengthen relations between both sides and achieve the agenda of benefiting in areas of mutual interest.

He said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are not only neighbouring countries but also “have shared religion, culture values and commonalities for increasing economic and people to people connectivity.”

“Pakistan also shares a 2,200km long border with Afghanistan, which can play a vital role to increase economic interdependence and ties in both sides,” he added.

The PM’s advisor also expressed his wish to visit Afghanistan to join the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) meeting to work over future trade prospects and opportunities.

He said that both sides are committed to reducing the cost of doing business to enhance the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He said that Pakistan needs to focus on infrastructure issues, temporary vehicle and driver admission policy, access to third countries and also improved processing at border posts for reducing the cost of business to increase bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Replying to another question, he said that the Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) would be reviewed in February 2021 while both sides are negotiating with different stakeholders to finalise the agreement.

“Both countries are in discussions to remove barriers and promote free trade between each other,” he said, adding that solid recommendations were floated at the recent trade and interment forum held in Islamabad in this regard.

Further, parliamentarians, business community members, experts and relevant ministries of both sides highlighted important issues and proposed solutions to the problems being faced by the business community on both sides.

He said that trade-friendly and anti-smuggling legislation should be introduced to reduce the informal economy for the benefit of both countries.

 

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