Officials at the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said this week that trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan is down by more than 50 percent in the past two months. They said that the lack of interest among Afghan businessmen to do business with Pakistan has caused this dip – which will also result in the projected trade income target between the two countries – of $1 billion USD – not being reached. On the basis of ACCI figures two months ago, around 9,000 tons of flour, cooking oil, rice, beans, sugar and cement was imported from Pakistan to Afghanistan on a daily basis. Now only about 4,000 tons of these items are imported to Afghanistan daily. Officials at the ACCI said that an upswing in problems in dealing with Pakistan for Afghan businessmen were one of the reasons for the drop in trade. A reduction in buying power on Pakistan markets and low quality products were also cited as reasons. "There are problems and one of the reasons that our trade has decreased is that there is no interest from the private sector to do business with Pakistan and therefore we think that this year the level of our business with Pakistan will not reach (the projected) $1 billion USD," said ACCI deputy Khan Jan Alokozai. Meanwhile Mosafer Qoqandi, spokesperson for the ministry for commerce and industry, acknowledged there had been a decrease in trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan and added that by utilizing the Lajaward (Lapis) routes, which connects Afghanistan with Europe, Afghanistan's dependence on Pakistan will end. "Without a doubt our imports from Pakistan have decreased because we are looking for alternate import and export routes," said Qoqandi. On the other hand a number of owners of Afghan industries said that if government provides the necessary support, a large quantity of imported goods can be produced in the country. "There are lots of problems and if our problems are solved we are able to increase our products and if we got enough support we would be able to meet the country's requirements," said head of Industries Association Sakhi Paiman. These comments come after Pakistan once again closed the border at Chaman in Spin Boldak in Kandahar Province of Afghanistan. According to ACCI officials hundreds of trucks have been stuck at the border crossing for the past four days.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE