Pak-Afghan trade picking pace: SAARC-CCI president

LAHORE: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation-Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC-CCI) President Iftikhar Ali Malik said on Tuesday that Pak-Afghan trade was now picking up at a good pace, as it swelled by 60 per cent last week.

Talking to a delegation of exporters, led by Syed Yawer Abbas Bahawalpuri here, he said the bilateral trade could be increased manifold if the old infrastructure was replaced with modern facilities of shipment handling at all land border routes including Torkham and Chaman for early scanning and clearing of goods on both sides.

He stressed the need for fast track resolution of all issues including removal of non-tariff barriers impeding the smooth flow of bilateral trade, besides further strengthening of economic ties with Afghanistan.

He mentioned that Pakistan’s annual export to Afghanistan tumbled from $2 billion a couple of years ago to $700 million. He said that earlier Pakistan used to export up to 50,000 tonnes of cement and 100,000 tonnes of iron bars during the last two years but not anymore now because of odd and unrealistic policies of the previous Afghan government.

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Malik said that before the Taliban regime, Pakistan had suffered a setback as its export to the neighbouring country went down by 5.5 per cent from $790m to $746m during the first nine months of last fiscal year.

He said that now the situation was altogether changed after the Taliban and Pakistan traders, exporters and importers would extend whole-hearted cooperation with their Afghan brothers and meet their demands on top priority.

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