Home South Asia Afghanistan Bilateral trade with Afghanistan reduced to $500M

Bilateral trade with Afghanistan reduced to $500M

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News Analysis |

The bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been reduced by almost 2 billion dollars in the past few years. President of Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), Zahidullah Shinwari, said that the trade between the two countries has been reduced to a mere 500 million dollars annually. He blamed the strained relations between Kabul and Islamabad over the reduction in the trade volume.

Shinwari also called the federal governments of both countries to play their role in increasing bilateral trade. Pakistan and Afghanistan have long accused each other of harboring terrorists and the relations between the two countries have been strained for the past few years. Afghanistan is a landlocked country and relies on Pakistan for trade with the international world; all of its trade routes go through Pakistan.

The Central Asian countries are rich in natural resources like oil and gas, and they could help Pakistan resolve the energy crisis. Since the trade routes would go through Afghanistan, it would accelerate the normalization of Afghanistan and improve its political ties with Pakistan.

With the rift between Afghan-Pak relationships, Afghanistan is seeking new routes for international trade. Afghanistan continues to blame Pakistan for providing safe havens to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, while Pakistan blames Afghanistan for protecting Tehreek-I-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists on its soil. Afghanistan also praised US President Donald Trump’s tweet accusing Pakistan of ‘lies and deceit’.

Read more: Military Diplomacy with Afghanistan: Will Gen Bajwa’s visit to Kabul change…

There is a trust deficit between the two nations and Afghanistan has recently requested the United States Security Council (UNSC) to pressure Pakistan into consensus. With such hostility between the two countries, bilateral trade is bound to suffer. Strict border management is also under process in Pakistan and they have also started the process of bordering the fence on the Pak-Afghan border.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have long accused each other of harboring terrorists and the relations between the two countries have been strained for the past few years.

It could also be a reason for the reduction of bilateral trade since small time businessmen would be reluctant to go through the stringent security process on the border. Allies and enemies are temporary but interests are permanent. Increasing of trade with Afghanistan is in the long term benefit of Pakistan since Afghanistan is a perpetual neighbor and while the political realities may change, strategic realities won’t.

The expansion of trade routes with Afghanistan will also improve the socio-economic status of the people of Afghanistan but it would help Pakistan to access the landlocked and resource rich Central Asian countries. The Central Asian countries are rich in natural resources like oil and gas, and they could help Pakistan resolve the energy crisis. Since the trade routes would go through Afghanistan, it would accelerate the normalization of Afghanistan and improve its political ties with Pakistan.


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