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.
Flour mill opens in Herat province
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce says that a new flour mill has opened and is now operational in Herat province.
Afghan Industry and Commerce Minister Nooruddin Azizi, inaugurated the flour mill, which is privately owned, on Saturday in the presence of an accompanying delegation.
According to the ministry, Azizi thanked the business owner for investing in the mill, which was built in Phase 1 of Herat Industrial Park at a cost of $1.2 million.
The flour mill will be able to produce 180 tons of flour per day, and has provided employment for more than 700 people.
Afghanistan, Pakistan sign draft convention to avoid double taxation
Afghanistan and Pakistan have signed a draft convention to avoid double taxation between the two countries.
The convention was signed after three-day talks concluded in Islamabad on Friday, Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue said in an announcement.
The Afghan delegation was headed by Revenue Legal Services Director Nida Muhammad Seddiqi while FBR’s International Tax Operations DG Sajidullah Siddiqui headed the Pakistani delegation.
The sides thoroughly deliberated over all the outstanding issues identified during the second round of negotiations held in Islamabad from 27th-30th December, 2021.
FBR Chairman Asim Ahmad thanked the Afghan delegation for visiting Pakistan and expressed optimism that the convention will further strengthen economic relations between the two countries.
Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan welcomed the move as “another important step forward.”
“It took us some 12 years to cross this milestone. Investors, contractors and businesses on both sides will benefit significantly,” Mohammad Sadiq said on Twitter.
Afghanistan accuses Uzbekistan of violating Hairatan port deal
Officials of the Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) accuse Uzbekistan Railways of violating the new agreement regarding the technical affairs of the rail link between Hairatan and Mazar-e-Sharif.
ARA’s head Bakht-ur-Rahman Sharaft, in an interview with Ariana News, said that Uzbekistan Railways had agreed that 16 Uzbeks be employed for the management of the rail link, but now it is insisting on employing 65 people.
He said that based on the agreement, Uzbekistan should have handed over the technical affairs to a Kazakh company on February 1, however,, Uzbekistan Railways suspended international freight shipment via Hairatan port.
“The only problem is that we had agreed on 16 technical employees, but they have sent a one-sided contract that mentions 65 employees instead of 16 employees, and the salary of each one is 6,000 dollars. This is a huge amount of money and we cannot afford it,” Sharafat said.
The official emphasized that efforts are underway to solve the problem, and a delegation from Afghanistan is ready to travel to Uzbekistan for this purpose.
He also said that efforts are ongoing for the implementation of trans-Afghan railwy project. Although the implementation of this project by foreign engineers is estimated at around 4.8 billion dollars, but the head of the railway administration emphasizes that the project can be implemented at a cost of 2.8 billion dollars.
“We can do anything,” he said. “There is will, there is transparency, there is commitment of leadership.”
Recently, the Afghanistan Railway Administration signed a two-year contract with Kazakhstan on the Haritaan port, according to which Kazakh employees will carry out technical work in this port.
The Hiraitan Railway stretches 75 km from Hiraitan Port to the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, through which commercial goods from China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are transported to Afghanistan.
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