ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) Sunday hailed the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet’s decision of allowing trade with Afghanistan in Pak Rupee saying that Pak-Afghan trade is a potential source for the creation of livelihood for thousands of people and can bring about prosperity in the region.PBF Senior Vice President, Muhammad Riaz Khattak in a statement said the Federal government took a major decision to allow trade of all products with Kabul in the rupee via land routes owing to the non-availability of tradable Currency through banking channels which was long-standing demand of the business community and it would also support our balance of payment.
The ECC approved a summary of the commerce ministry amending the Import Policy Order (IPO) to allow trade with Afghanistan in rupees for a period of one year. It is believed the regime will remain in place until the restoration of regular banking channels in Afghanistan.Afghanistan was the third largest export destination for Pakistani products, but the trend changed in the past couple of years.
Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan fell by 30 per cent to $717.53 million in 2021-22 from $1.018bn in 2020-21, said the statement.However Pak-Afghan bilateral trade has a vast potential of $8 billion annually, which seems to be eased now after the decision. Khattak said the number of scanners at the Torkham border needed to be doubled to expedite goods handling.He said poor trade infrastructure at border crossing points were also to be upgraded on modern and scientific lines to ensure uninterrupted flow of trade volume.”At a time when the economy desperately needs a push for growth, Pakistan can capitalise on the present situation by increasing the scale and depth of economic engagement with Afghanistan,” he said.
Similarly Pakistan has already started importing coal from Afghanistan and government is paying for the coal in rupees and supplying it to the coal-fired power plants in different cities which should be enhanced in other items too, he added. “The import of coal, initially required for Sahiwal and Hub power plants, from Afghanistan would help Pakistan cut the annual import bill by $2.2 billion”; Khattak added