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Three Afghan-Pakistan borders set to reopen for trade

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(Last Updated On: June 20, 2020)

Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to reopen three key border crossings for trade traffic between the two countries from Monday.

According to Pakistan media, the border crossings are Torkham, Chaman, and Ghulam Khan, which have mostly been closed since March as part of broad-based lockdown measures by both countries amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Dawn news reported on Saturday that a notification issued late Friday night by the Pakistan Ministry of Interior stated: “I am directed to refer to this ministry’s letter of even no dated May 1, 2020, on the subject cited above and to convey that competent authority has approved management of Afghan transit/bilateral trade and pedestrian movement along Pak-Afghan border with effect from June 22.”

The notification stated the planned opening would be for import and export traffic and an “unlimited number of trucks will be allowed per day for both Afghan transit and bilateral trade: while ensuring all COVID-19-related standard operating procedures and protocols” are followed.

According to the report, trade traffic will be allowed to transit six days a week, except Saturday. On that day the borders will be open for pedestrian traffic.

“Saturday will be reserved for pedestrian movement only at Torkham, Chaman and Ghulam Khan border terminals”, the notification read.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Atif Mashal, who confirmed to Xinhua news that the crossings would reopen for trade, said this means Afghan traders will be able to resume the export of their fresh produce.

“It is the peak time for Afghan exports of fresh fruits and vegetables as both are now ready for export,” Mashal said.

In addition, a Pakistani official in North Waziristan, told Xinhua, that officials of the two countries had agreed on procedures and regulations for the cross-border trade in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Officials reportedly agreed that truck drivers and all involved in the cross-border trade will follow strict standard operating procedures to contain the spread of the virus and that drivers will undergo tests at the quarantine centers established on both sides of the border.

This move comes just days after Afghan traders raised their concerns over the continued trade restrictions which they said had caused them huge losses.

Earlier this week, the Afghan Traders’ Union chairman, Omaid Haidari, told Anadolu Agency that the border closures had cost Afghan traders more than US$100 million.

He also stated that while Afghan traders had been barred from entering Pakistan amid the Coronavirus outbreak, Pakistan continued to export goods to Afghanistan.

Haidari said that hundreds of trucks loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables destined for Pakistan and India had been stranded for months at the main Chaman and Torkham border crossings.

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Afghanistan’s exports to India total almost $200 million in past 9 months

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(Last Updated On: January 31, 2023)

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) says over the past nine months, Afghanistan has exported goods to India worth $159 million, most of which was asafetida, saffron and pistachio nuts.

The MoIC officials said Tuesday they would try to expand economic relations between Kabul and New Delhi because India can become one of Afghanistan’s major economic partners.

“In the last nine months, our exports to India totalled $159 million,” said Abdul Salam Akhundzada, a spokesman for the MoIC.

According to MoIC’s officials, Afghanistan has imported goods worth $291 million from India in nine months, and the total trade volume is $450 million.

“The important goods we exported were pistachio, cumin, raisins, saffron and asafetida seeds, and we imported sugar, medical spices and various clothes from India,” said Akhundzada.

“And our imports from India totals $291 million.”

However, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) has said that there are currently problems with the export and import of goods from India but once these problems are solved, the trade volume will amount to $1 billion.

Meanwhile, the commodities are being transported from Afghanistan to India and vice versa via the air corridor, Wagah port in Pakistan and Bandar Abbas in Iran.

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World Bank report finds Afghan revenue collection strong

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

The World Bank on Wednesday published its latest report on Afghanistan’s economy and painted a slightly positive picture – stating that in the first nine months of the fiscal year 2022, exports were good, the exchange rate was stable and the Islamic Emirate’s revenue collection had been strong.

The World Bank stated that inflationary pressure in Afghanistan has eased since July of last year, decelerating by half to 9.1 % in November, while most basic food and non-food items are still widely available. The report stated the decline in inflation was due to lower global oil and food prices, along with a stable exchange rate.

The bank stated that Afghanistan exported $1.7 billion worth of goods during this time, an increase of approximately 90% compared to the full year 2021.

The report noted that January to June 2022 data shows the country imported $2.9 billion of goods.

In addition, the report stated that revenue collection had remained strong, reaching $1.54 billion between March and December 2022, in line with 2020 results.

A major chunk of the revenues came from taxes collected at borders and non-tax sources while a rise in coal mining royalties and fees were likely the drivers of the increase in revenue, the report found.

The report also noted that most government workers in Afghanistan have received salaries regularly and that their main problem was the lack of cash in banks when withdrawing their salaries.

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New labor minister promises to provide job opportunities to curb migration

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Abdul Manan Omari, the new minister of labor and social affairs, says the ministry will try to provide job opportunities for people inside the country so as to stop Afghans from seeking work outside the country.

In an introductory ceremony on Thursday in Kabul, the new minister said the ministry will also try to defend the rights of Afghans working in other countries, as well as create job opportunities in order to curb migration.

Meanwhile, Noorul Haq Anwar, the head of the Administrative Office, said at the event that the Islamic Emirate is a national system and is committed to providing balanced services throughout the country.

“The rights of all citizens will be addressed,” said Anwar.

According to him, many attempts have been made to weaken the country’s economy, but they have managed to control this.

He said they will not allow anyone “to lead the country to an economic crisis” and expressed hope that with the changes in the leadership of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, services will improve.

Currently, the country’s unemployment rate is estimated to be at above 90% as hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs following the withdrawal of foreign troops and the collapse of the former government.

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