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Monday, September 25, 2023

Streamlining coal import and transit trade: Pakistani delegation visits Kabul

A Pakistani delegation is visiting Kabul to negotiate on trade, transit, and transportation problems.

A Pakistani delegation including Secretary Commerce Sualeh Ahmad Faruqui and Secretary Power Rashid Mehmood Langrial is visiting Kabul for three days (July 18-20) to negotiate with the interim Afghan government on trade, transit, and transportation problems, including night-time operations of border facilities for coal imports.

As shared by sources, the government’s motive behind this initiative is to examine the possibilities of importing oil from Afghanistan. Following this motive, the Prime Minister’s Office established a committee headed by the Minister of Defense.

Read more: Pak-Afghan trade agreement extends after failing to complete discussion

During the third meeting of the Border Management Committee (BMC), which was chaired by Federal Minister of Defense Khawaja Asif, it was agreed that dialogue with the Afghan government is essential to streamline border management problems in order to facilitate trade flow.

The proclamation of 24/7 operations at the Torkham, Kharlachi, and Ghulam Khan border terminals, the deployment of additional HR to ensure smooth operations, the upgrading of infrastructure on the Afghan side, and the cross-border movement of trucks are among the key concerns to be discussed.

According to the sources, the delegation’s participation expenses will be covered by their respective organizations/ministries out of their present fiscal year’s budget.

It was agreed by the Commerce Ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan in a zoom meeting on July 06, 2022 that a delegation led by Sualeh Ahmed Faruqui, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Pakistan will visit Kabul from 18-20 July 2022. It will include senior executives from Ministry of Commerce, FBR, NLC, Ministry of Interior and Power Division.

The meeting, according to the Commerce Ministry, is part of a continuous process of bilateral engagements between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the domains of trade, transit, connectivity, and economic cooperation.

Trade ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan

Pakistan and Afghanistan are each other’s largest trading partners. Afghanistan is Pakistan’s fifth largest export market while Pakistan is the top import and export market for Afghanistan. As a landlocked country, Afghanistan has mainly relied on Pakistan for transit trade with rest of the world.

Some days ago, Pakistan decided to reduce trade conditions with Afghanistan, including barter trading and transactions in Pakistani rupees, and wants border facilities to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to facilitate coal imports from Afghanistan.

Read more: Government enables Pak-Afghan trade in Rupee

Moreover, the federal cabinet authorized revisions to paragraph 3(1) of the Import Policy Order 2022 on Friday, allowing imports of goods from Afghanistan against Pakistan rupees and eliminated the requirement for Importers Electronic I-Form (EIF) forms for a year. Afghan exporters, on the other hand, will present a Certificate of Origin issued by Afghan Customs confirming that the goods have originated from Afghanistan.

In addition, at the request of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Pakistan has reserved 120,000 tons of wheat for Afghanistan from PASSCO’s imported wheat stock at the most recent import price, in light of the situation in the brotherly neighbor and on humanitarian grounds.