Officials in Pakistan say that despite uncertainty in Afghanistan after the capital fell to the Taliban, Pak-Afghan bilateral trade continued to be seamless. Shinwari, the senior vice president of the Khyber Chamber of Commerce and Industry envisions a bright future for Pak-Afghan trade and calls it a “blessing in disguise” for bilateral trading prospects.
Taliban allow transit trade to continue
Haji Jabir Shinwari, the senior vice president of the Khyber Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that although Afghan Former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, Taliban have allowed the transit trade to remain seamless. The Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, first signed in 2010, was extended this year in July for six months by Afghanistan’s former president Ashraf Ghani.
Pak-Afghan transit trade agreement extended https://t.co/RpjquPJ68p
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Taliban takeover a “blessing in disguise”
“As a result, trade activities at border crossings, therefore at Spin Boldak, Chaman and Torkham, have picked up momentum,”
The vice president even went as far as to call the Taliban takeover a “blessing in disguise”, explaining that it is a win-win situation for traders on both sides and eliminates dual tax toll.
“Earlier, traders had to pay dual toll taxes,” he said, “One tax was paid to the Afghan government and another to the Taliban. Now we have to only pay the Taliban.”
Meanwhile, members of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry have also expressed optimism about trade flowing with ease during the Taliban rule.
Afghan govt used to ask for bribes from Pak traders
Shinwari further added that the Afghan government officials would also ask traders for bribes ranging from Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 100,000. Since the Taliban have came, he said, the bribes have stopped.
Under the trade agreement, Pakistan exported cereals, edible fruits, pharmaceutical products, wood, plastics, iron and steel to Afghanistan. The agreement also provides for Afghan exports to India using the land border between Pakistan and India.
Taliban’s first press conference gave Pakistani traders glad tidings
The Chamber’s secretary general, Faiza, told Geo.tv that the Taliban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid’s first press conference was positive, where he stressed that economic progression is an important focus for the new regime.
The secretary general added that a few weeks back the trucks crossing the border points had dropped from 400 to 40 per day. In the last two or three days, the number of trucks is back up to 400.
However, she added that the long term prospects of the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement still seem unclear. The Agreement, which was extended in July, is set to expire in November.
“Currently, the transit trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan hovers at around $1 billion annually. Whether this volume goes up or goes down, time will tell,” Faiza said.