Afghan businessmen want continuity of investment policies
KABUL: The business community of Afghanistan has said that peace and stability is a must for steering the war-torn country out of the crisis and putting it on the road to progress and prosperity.
The country is passing through a critical juncture and after Taliban’s take over, the business community wants that the system and institutions developed here during the last 20 years, including investment by the international community must not be lost, Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industries president Khan Jan Alkozai said in an interview with APP.
The business community underscored the need for continuity in policies, as consistency establishes trust of the people in the system.
“The world is very advance and moving ahead in every field at a fast pace,” he said, adding: “After [the] Taliban clinched the power in Afghanistan, our worries are that the system developed here in the last 20 years should continue, because we have experts of this system in all fields.”
Alkozai said that the business community of Afghanistan wanted Pakistan’s linkages with the Central Asian Republics (CARs), the Russian Federation and all political and security-related issues lying in it must be resolved.
Both countries should change their economic and security policies for the promotion of trade, besides improving the Customs and banking systems between the two countries, he said.
The CASA-1000 and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline projects could be materialised when peace and stability is restored in Afghanistan.
Alkozai said that there were 1,500 members of Pak-Afghan Joint Chambers of Commerce and Industries, besides local traders and they have assured of smooth functioning of trade between the two countries.
The bureaucratic bottlenecks must be removed and more facilities at Torkham and Chaman borders and Karachi seaport be provided to enhance bilateral trade, he said, adding that 2,000 containers, most of which have food items, got stuck at the Karachi Port due to nonpayment and the traders needed help of the Pakistan government, in this regard.
Welcoming the extension in the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) for the next three months, he urged upon Islamabad and Kabul to reconstitute a new transit agreement in consultation with the respective business communities and stakeholders on both sides of the border.
Alkozai; however, urged for simplification of rules and regulations for carrying out smooth bilateral trade and transit trade.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries president Muhammad Younas Khan Momand said that the Taliban leadership had assured the business community restoration of peace and security and they were hopeful of fulfillment of their pledges.
Talking to APP, he said, there was a vast potential of increasing bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan after the restoration of peace and stability.
In 2012, the bilateral trade between the two countries had reached $3 billion but later due to security and political reasons, it dropped to $1 billion, but now it was again on the rise.
He said Afghanistan was a landlocked country and the maximum number of its imports come through Karachi and Gwadar ports, adding that Pakistan was also the major beneficiary of the bilateral trade, as the maximum number of imports come from Pakistan.
Afghanistan imports electrical goods, steel, cement, bricks, clothes, kinnow, banana and other edible items from Pakistan, while Afghanistan exports fresh and dry fruits to Pakistan.
Momand said that the tax on perishable items between the two countries should be zero per cent or bring it down to its minimum level.
The trade and politics should be separated from each other, as both countries could take great benefit from its geographical location, he said, adding that there should be smooth trade between the two countries.
Lauding the efforts of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for focusing on regional connectivity with Afghanistan and five landlocked Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, he said, these efforts could cause a major economic upturn for these countries.
He; however, termed peace in Afghanistan as the “foremost factor” to materialise such a vision of prosperity.
Momand said that an international joint border market was the need of the hour, as it would provide maximum investment opportunities to the business community of the two countries and foreign investors.
There was great scope for joint investment in the marble and mining sectors, he said, adding that the Taliban leadership had guaranteed foolproof security to the businessmen and foreign investors.
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