Trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been reduced to a record level. The trade volume that once hit above $2 billion has been now reduced to less than $500 million. According to Ghazanfar Bilour, president of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), the trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan is almost equal to a “no trade at all”. He furthers that both countries are responsible for the reduction of trade. “Increase in tariffs on Pakistani goods by Afghanistan and Pakistan’s policies toward Afghanistan had led to a sharp decrease in the trade,” said Bilour.
According to him, the trade deficit has hurt Pakistani markets and businessmen more than the Afghan businessmen. He stated that “Afghans are importing from Iran and other countries while our goods that were once exported to Afghanistan remains in Pakistan”.
The volume of trade is also hit by an increase of trust deficit between the two states on the political front. From time to time, Pakistan seals various crossing points most notably the Spin Boldak and Torkham crossing points with Afghanistan for any goods movement. Last year, following the deadly bomb blast at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh province of Pakistan, the Pakistani government sealed Torkham crossing for an indefinite period.
Looking for alternatives, The Afghan government has now established a robust trading relationship with Iran, India, and central Asian states. It has opened an air corridor with India to boost its exports. Recently, Afghan government also opened an air corridor with Uzbekistan to further trade between the two states. Yesterday, a higher Turkish government and businessmen delegation arrived Kabul to discuss on improving the bilateral relationship, in particular, improving the trading relationship between the two countries. In a press release by ARG, the Afghan and Turkish have also agreed to open an air corridor.