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ACCI welcomes Pakistan’s move to establish a legal barter system

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2022)

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) on Saturday welcomed Pakistan’s move to establish a legal mechanism to provide for barter trade with two sanctions-hit neighbors — Afghanistan and Iran.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Thursday.

The ACCI said the adoption of the mechanism would be effective in preventing the smuggling of goods between the two countries.

“We are in favor of legal trade and good trade relations and mutual respect both with the countries of the region and with the whole world,” said ACCI deputy chief Mohammad Younus Mohmand.

Economists believe that improving trade and economic relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are key to increasing imports and exports between the two countries.

“If the Pakistanis use honesty in these matters, it is a big step, which is in fact a regional move, and it can be a good help in strengthening the Afghan economy and building trust in the Afghan economy, and it is not an easy step,” said Sayed Massoud, an Afghan university lecturer.

According to an official statement issued by Pakistan, the meeting, presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, focused on a commerce ministry’s summary for “grant of regulatory support for establishing barter trade arrangements with Afghanistan and Iran”.

After discussions, the consensus “allowed regulatory cover to barter trade arrangements by amending relevant provisions” of the export and import policy orders.

Trade between Pakistan and Iran has stagnated for more than a decade mainly due to US sanctions on Tehran, while Pak-Afghan formal trade has suffered in the absence of a banking system in Afghanistan and Washington’s decision to freeze Afghanistan’s foreign reserves.

As a way out, the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Iran’s Zahidan Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed an agreement in November last year for a barter trade mechanism. Subsequently, other chambers of the two countries were also brought into the same system.

The same mechanism would also be replicated with Afghanistan given its heavy reliance on Pakistan for essential commodities, Dawn News reported.

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Afghan Fund trustee Mehrabi to attend DAB meeting

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

The Supreme Council of Da Afghanistan Bank will hold a two-day meeting in Kabul, and Shah Mohammad Mehrabi, a board member of the Swiss-based trust fund, is expected to attend the meeting.

Afghan central bank officials say the meeting is set to kick off within the next two days, and aims to resolve banking issues.

Afghanistan’s frozen assets are expected to be discussed in the meeting.

“It (Mehrabi’s participation) would mean empowering Afghanistan authorities. It would also suggest semi-recognition. I think it will be a very good visit, because he has lobbied a lot… a direct relation will be established between the US and Afghanistan authorities,” said Sayed Massoud, an economic expert.

“Unless Afghanistan’s assets are handed over to Da Afghanistan Bank, we cannot call it good news. The money they have kept in the fund is for non-monetary purposes which is never acceptable to Afghanistan. It would affect the value of Afghani currency and the economic condition,” said Lal Zazai, an economic expert.

The meeting comes two weeks after the board of the Swiss-based trust fund managing $3.5 billion in frozen assets held its first meeting.

Anwar-ul-haq Ahadi, one of the board members, in an interview with Ariana News, recently suggested that the assets could also be used to provide liquidity to the banking system in Afghanistan.

“We want to reach an understanding in this regard with the central bank and the finance ministry,” Ahadi said.

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Afghanistan open to Indian investment: IEA

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) minister of urban development Hamdullah Nomani met with India’s Charge d’Affaires to Kabul Bharat Kumar recently and said the country needs India to help rebuild and sustain its infrastructure.

Speaking to The Hindu on Sunday, Shaheen said Nomani told Kumar that “Afghanistan is open for Indian investment including urban infrastructure (projects).”

Several Indian companies were involved in building and maintaining numerous projects in Afghanistan over the years. However, teams located in Afghanistan, were evacuated in August last year when the IEA came into power.

Indian companies had left numerous projects incomplete but according to Shaheen, “they are the projects started by India during the past regime, but left incomplete. India can resume work on them or make investments in new projects.”

The Hindu reported that the relation between the Taliban administration and India has remained undefined although a team from India was sent back to Kabul a few months ago to reopen the embassy.

Shaheen, however, assured the Indian envoy of a peaceful working environment for Indian companies and said: “Security of Indians is our responsibility and we assure them [of it].”

Over the last two decades, Indian public and private sector entities invested around $3 billion in mainly the infrastructure sector of the country.

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Pakistan’s power regulator to devise mechanism for purchase of Afghan coal

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

Pakistan’s electric power regulator will meet Monday to discuss a mechanism for the purchase of coal from Afghanistan for longer periods, possibly three to six months, opposed to the current monthly procurement process.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) will hold a public hearing and have said procurement of coal from Afghanistan needs to be conducted fairly and transparently and that the process should be efficient and economical.

Guidelines put forward already by NEPRA include an estimate of the amount of coal that will be needed over the next six months, purchasers need to ensure that the final price negotiated is competitive, market reflective and comparable with that of other suppliers and that the currency for importing and trading the Afghan coal must be in Pakistani Rupees, the Nation reported.

In addition, the delivered cost of Afghan coal should remain lower than imported coal from any other origin.

NEPRA stated however that the process should have provision to accommodate additional supply at lower than awarded rates from new suppliers during the course of existing contracts if the price of the commodity falls due to reduction in demand or any other event, the Tribune reported.

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