KARACHI: Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) on Thursday urged the government to revisit the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement of 2010 if parallel regime of trade has to be discouraged between the two countries.
This was stated by president of the PAJCCI Zubair Motiwala at a press conference where all office-bearers of the chamber were also present and expressed their desire to promote trade and people-to-people contacts with Afghanistan.
Mr Motiwala said that if parallel trade with Afghanistan was checked, Pakistan’s current account deficit would also improve and manufacturing sector would get a boost which is presently having tough time because of transit trade.
He further stated that the PAJCCI had reservations against the business agreement of 2010 between Afghanistan and Pakistan on transit trade.
There is an urgent need to rationalise duty structure and to reduce the number of items included in the transit trade with Afghanistan.
The agreement even includes such items in the transit trade which are not consumed in Afghanistan but ultimately find their way in the local market, damaging Pakistan’s manufacturing sector.
However, he said that establishment of the PAJCCI would provide a platform for both the sides to resolve issues amicably and also help promote business-to-business and people-to-people contracts between the two countries.
The PAJCCI, he said, is a newly-established chamber and it would like to work and serve the people of both the countries.
A trade directory of both the countries, he said, would be compiled and the chamber would provide exclusive advisory service and hold trade fairs and exhibitions and training programmes.
It is a humble beginning, he said but the chamber would also establish networking between the two counties.
The PAJCCI has launched membership programme and 50 applications have already been received, he said and hoped that by the year end around 500 to 1,000 members would be added.
Mr Motiwala said that first trade delegation from Afghanistan is visiting from July 13 to 15.
The delegation members will hold meetings with officials, including Sindh governor, the chief minister and business leaders, and also discuss port related and logistic issues with the authorities.
During their stay, the Afghan trade delegation will also visit “My Karachi” event and would also be briefed by Sindh Board of Investment (BoI) regarding available investment and trade prospects.
He regretted that Indians representation in Afghan is growing day by day and even today around 70 per cent big contracts related to development of infrastructure are held by Indian companies.
Motiwala said Pakistan can help Afghanistan in many ways, but it needs government patronage as Indian companies and businesses are getting a lot of financial assistance and other facilities from their government.
He said PAJCCI is targeting $5 to $6 billion bilateral trade in the next couple of years from the present level of $1.5 billion.
Other members of the chamber also spoke. However, those belonging to Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunhwa Haji Hamidullah, Haji Qayyum Kakar and Jamulladin Achkzai were critical of the hardships they face at border areas, particularly when they have to give huge illegal ‘gratifications’ to check-posts of both the sides during the movement of goods and trucks.