Political tension takes heavy toll on Af-Pak trade

26.01.2017

The Pakistan-Afghanistan trade has sharply fallen over the last six months as a result of political tensions and strict border controls, an official says. Afghanistan's exports to the neighbour slumped by 21.9 percent while imports declined by 14.9 percent during the period, Model Collectorate of Customs chief said. The News International quoted Qurban Ali Khan as saying the export of 30 main items to Afghanistan accounted for $103 million, but the overall trade volume dropped.

Pakistan's exports to Afghanistan stood at Rs53billion in the two quarters (July-December) of the current fiscal, compared to Rs62.49 billion in the corresponding period of last year. Wheat flour, amounting to Rs13.51 billion in the first two quarters of the 2015-16, dropped to Rs9.28 billion during the corresponding period of the current year. Similarly, Afghanistan's imports of rice, cement and other traditional items also went down during the current financial year. But medicine imports steadily rose to Rs2.21 billion from Rs1.94 billion. "My entire mercantile perished twice at the border crossing due to the strict steps taken by the authorities on both sides," said Niaz Muhammad, a fruits merchant.

"It is apparently due to the strain in the ties between the two states." By the same token, Afghanistan's exports -- mainly grapes, apples, apricots, tomatoes, onions, palm oil, raw cotton, mineral coal, solar panels, submersible pumps, etc -- also saw a fall. But Qurban Ali Khan said Afghanistan remained a major destination for Pakistani products. He linked the declining trade to the new border management system and other issues. The strict visa regime, installation of scanners and other measures impeded the trade flow for the time being, he believed, hoping the situation would return to normal.


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