PESHAWAR: President of the Frontier Customs Agents Association, Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi has said that Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan have reduced by 82% after Taliban seized control on 15 August.
Speaking on Mashriq TV’s program Center Point, Sarhadi said in the absence of former government, there is an uncertain situation in Afghanistan which has led to an unprecedented declined in Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan. “We use to send a lot of cements to Afghanistan, which still continue, but food items and other goods’ exports have reduced.” Sarhadi hoped that now that after the Taliban announced cabinet, the situation will improve.
He said that Afghanistan transit trade through Pakistan has also come to standstill which has also impacts on Pakistan. He also appreciated Taliban for reducing some taxes which will encourage Pakistani exporters. He said heavy taxes were levied under ‘Ilm-o-Khabar’ [document used by the Taliban for impose vehicles]. Sarhadi said that after taking control of Kabul, the Taliban announced some good steps and abolished Ilm-e-Khabar procedure but they have now re-imposed but have reduced the tax.
He said that the Afghan government was receiving heavy taxes under Khak-e-Pali, which severely affected businesses, but since the Taliban came to power, the tax has been reduced by 50 percent. “These are very good steps that will have long standing impacts on bilateral trade,” Sarhadi said. Similarly, Sarhadi said, the containers stopped for extortion were cleared by the Taliban without taking any bribes. Sarhadi said these were the containers for which traders had to pay heavy extortion money.
From 2002 to 2012, the total bilateral trade volume was $33 billion dollars but since then, there was steady declined in Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan. The bilateral trade in 2020 declined to 1.37 billion US dollars and now it has further declined. He said that there is an urgent need of amendments in Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit trade agreement and it is hoped that after the Taliban have taken over, the new transit trade agreement will be finalized soon.
According to Shahid Hussain, former senior vice president of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, there has been significant decline in Pak- Afghan trade after the Taliban take over the country. He said the delay in the transition of power closure on Banks in Afghanistan has discouraged exporters to continue sending goods to Afghansitan. Hussain hoped that the trade can improve after the Taliban formally announces the new government and end the uncertain situation.