PESHAWAR: Traffic on both sides of the Torkham border on Wednesday increased massively as cargo trucks continued to cross the border, contrary to fears of a reduction in Pak-Afghan trade and transit traders due to the changing situation in Afghanistan.
While repatriation of stranded Afghans also begun, customs officials reported that trade on the Pak-Afghan border has almost doubled since the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital.
According to Customs Clearance Agent Fazlullah, who works at Torkham border, there has been a huge increase in bilateral trade contrary to fears and expectations.
Fazlullah said that earlier the number of imports in 24 hours did not consist of more than 60 to 70 vehicles as the former Afghan government agencies did not want better trade relations between the two countries; however, as many as 270 cargo trucks were cleared within 24 hours of the Taliban taking charge of what is the largest border crossing between the Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Traders said that it is not yet clear how much of the prices announced by Taliban will be implemented whereas the people will set their own prices until a formal government is formed.
Traders also remarked that the Afghan currency has depreciated sharply since Ashraf Ghani fled the country in haste, prompting traders involved in Afghan trade to avoid ordering goods to avoid any possible misfortune.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has decided to reduce customs duties on 159 items in Afghanistan, most of which are food items, leading to a 50 to 90 per cent drop in prices.
The list released by the Afghan Taliban on Wednesday shows that the price of flour, oil, rice, vegetables, fruits, and other food items have witnessed a decrease in prices after the reduction in customs duty.
The list also includes construction items such as cement, steel, glass, plastic, petrol, diesel, foam and others.
According to Afghan businessman Hekmatullah, the reduction in customs duties will reduce the prices of food items as well as other items, including construction materials and electronic products, which were overpriced mainly due to the high customs duty.
He said that the reduction in customs duty will also benefit traders, adding that all these announcements are specific to the law and order situation in Afghanistan. “If the situation improves, the confidence of traders and the general public will be restored,” he said.
However, he said that a although a favourable business environment will create more job opportunities, it would be without a conducive environment; neither the traders nor the general public will benefit from such announcements.