Senior officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan will meet at Torkham border crossing on Monday to discuss issues related to trade and movement of people.
Afghanistan’s delegation in the meeting will be led by Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce Nooruddin Azizi, while Pakistan’s will be headed by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood. The Pakistani delegation will also include National Security Advisor Moeed Yousuf.
The officials will discuss various important matters related to smooth movement of people and patients across the border, issuance of temporary admission documents, increase in timings of border crossing points, establishment of joint border infrastructure, training of Afghan nominees for trade related capacity building courses and smooth crossing of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, Pakistani media reported.
Officials will also discuss the time frame for reinitiating the stalled Torkham-Jalalabad road project and the start of a luxury bus service between Peshawar-Jalalabad and Quetta-Kandahar, according to Dawn news.
The Peshawar-Jalalabad motorway concept was given the go-ahead in 2016. However, there has been no progress on the 281-km road project.
Meanwhile, Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) in a report on Saturday expressed concerns over the “shrinking” trade volume from $2.5 billion to $1 billion between the two countries.
“Lack of business-friendly policies, absence of proper barter trade mechanisms, ineffective investment and joint venture policies apart from unnecessary pressure and action by the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) and FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) are the main factors that reduced the trade volume,” the report said.
It stated that in the absence of an operational banking structure in Afghanistan, banks refused to process third-party payments which hindered international transactions.
Moreover, imposition of duties, fiscal reforms, double taxation, and unilateral imposition of duties and taxes by either government also affected the trade, according to the report.
“The trade volume decreased due to the unregulated movement of goods, the need for unnecessary documents, difficult security checks, and poor transit facilities in both countries,” the report stated.
Pomegranate harvest down in Kandahar
Pomegranate production has declined by 10 percent in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province, local officials said this week.
Drought and floods are said to be the main reasons behind the decline in pomegranate yield in Kandahar this year.
“We have pomegranate trees covering 10,000 hectares of land. Unfortunately, this year’s harvest saw a 10 percent decrease,” said Shams-ur-Rahman Musa, head of agricultural products at Kandahar agriculture department.
Meanwhile, the provincial chamber of commerce said that they have exported 13,134 tons of pomegranate so far this year.
Abdul Baqi Bina, deputy head of Kandahar Chamber of Commerce, said that pomegranate was also being transported to other provinces of the country.
Local farmers also said that drought and floods affected pomegranate production this year, but added that the demand for the fruit remains high in the market.
“Pomegranate harvest has declined this year due to drought. Hopefully it will increase next year,” said Juma Khan, a farmer in Kandahar.
“I request the Islamic Emirate’s authorities to help provide us with pesticides,” said Abdullah Jan, a farmer in Kandahar.
Food and oil prices fall in Afghanistan: IEA
The officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) have recently said that the price of food items and oil has decreased by 30 percent in the country.
Mohammad Yunus Mohmand, deputy head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) has said that over the past month, the price of food items and oil have decreased by 30 percent, and in the near future the prices will decrease even more.
“The prices have decreased by 20 to 30 percent and will decline further,” said Mohmand.
Akhundzada Abdul Salam Jawad, a spokesman for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, also said that the ministry has taken more measures to control prices, but they want to import enough food and non-food items into the country.
“We assure the people that before the arrival of this winter season, we have plans to reduce the basic needs, and all commodities and raw materials, Inshallah will have a significant reduction,” said Salam Jawad.
At the same time, the officials of ACCI have further said that the decrease in food prices in the world has had a positive effect on food prices in Afghanistan.
However, the high level of poverty has caused the country’s residents to not be able to buy the materials they need, therefore, they call on the government to pay serious attention to the price of raw materials so that the rates do not rise again.
“Until yesterday, a can of oil was 1900 afghanis, today it has reached 1700 afghanis,” said a shopkeeper.
On the other hand, the price of oil products has also declined, and a number of sellers express hope that the price of oil and gas will decrease further.
“Previously, the price of diesel per liter was 100 afghanis, now it is 97 afghanis. Gasoline was 80 afghanis, now it is 78 afghanis,” said an oil seller.
This reduction in price of food items and oil come while recently the Ministry of Industry and Trade has signed a contract with Russia for the purchase of millions of tons of food and petroleum products, which according to experts, the prices will drop significantly when these products are imported.
IEA in talks with Russian, Chinese businessmen on investment in Afghanistan
Officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) are in talks with Russian and Chinese and Arab businessmen over the possibility of investment in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said this week.
“We are in talks with big businessmen of Russia, China and Arab countries on investment in Afghanistan. We will make it public once we reach agreement,” said Khanzada Abdul Salam Jawad, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
According to the official, more than 100 business licenses were distributed to foreign nationals during the past one year.
Meanwhile, members of the private sector welcome efforts to attract foreign investment in Afghanistan.
“I think there is interest in investment in Afghanistan. There are political problems. They (investors) will consider political issues, banking issues, and transfer of money. There can be no other excuses. The laws are the same as in the past. The laws are easy and clear,” said Khanjan Alokozay, a member of Chamber of Commerce and Investment.
Economic experts call on IEA to maintain positive and constructive engagement with countries in order to help the economic development of Afghanistan.
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