KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday eased mandatory import procedures through the land routes of Afghanistan to reduce the cost of doing business for traders.
At present, all imports into Pakistan are required to be made compulsorily through Electronic Import Form (EIF), which was implemented to curb the illegal and duplicate payments of imports from Pakistan by unscrupulous elements.
Now, the requirement for routing of shipping documents against registered contract through banks shall not be mandatory for imports from Afghanistan through land routes, according to a press release.
Pakistani importers may now directly receive shipping documents from the Afghani exporters and get the goods cleared after attachment of Goods Declaration(s) with EIF.
Once the importer gets the contract registered and EIF approved with the bank for multiple shipments, the importers shall not be required to approach the bank repeatedly for approval of EIF.
The relaxation is expected to provide benefits to the importers by reducing their cost of doing business and efficient processing of goods clearance at Customs Stations bordering Afghanistan.
It was observed that due to the peculiar nature of trade with Afghanistan through land routes, especially via Torkham and Chaman borders, Pakistani importers were facing difficulties to carry out import transactions through EIF.
The procedure for registration of contracts and payments has been simplified in order to address the difficulties and to facilitate traders of the above regions.
Pakistan Afghanistan bilateral trade is over $2 billion and the trade balance is in Pakistan’s favour. Pakistan was the top exporting partner of Afghanistan in 2015, according to available data.
In 2015, Pakistan’s formal export to Afghanistan was close to $1.72 billion while its import from Afghanistan was $0.39 billion.
After the recent wave of bomb attacks in different cities, Pakistan has closed down its border with Afghanistan causing serious problems for businesses on both sides of the border.
Analysts say restrictions on formal trade between the two neighbours would result in the rise in illegal trade and smuggling, which severely damages the economies of both countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2017.
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