With trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan touching $5 billion a year, experts gathered at a seminar to discuss barriers hindering growth on Friday.
Economists, politicians and businessmen came together for “Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade: Emerging Trends and Challenges” at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in the wake of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s upcoming visit. As the landlocked country looks to Pakistan for growth, the Afghanistan Pakistan Trade Agreement does not fully exploit the potential that exists. With an annual trade figure of $4.5 billion, just $2.5 billion is legal, said Afghan Commercial Attaché Munir Yousufzai.
Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce Secretary General Faiza Nasir said an Afghan trader can get multiple visa within three days to enter Pakistan, while a Pakistani trader suffers for weeks. “Trade never stops, even between the countries at war and policymakers in both countries must take measures to bridge historical geo-political challenges and devise policies which can protect the interests of both countries,” said Senior Analyst Ejaz Haider.
Raja Amir Ali, former vice president of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added that Pakistan and Afghanistan should set up an electronic data exchange system at the border between the two nations.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2013.
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About 20 millions Pashtuns live in Afghanistan and almost the double 40 million in Pakistan. The presence of Pashtun population in both the countries should bridge the distance and may facilitate the legal trade between the two countries.