Lahore, December 17, 2020 (PPI-OT): A concrete strategy should be developed to avail of the trade opportunities existing between Pakistan and Afghanistan with a focus to extend trade relations with Central Asian Republics. It was suggested by the speakers from private sector at a Webinar organized by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) today on Pak-Afghan Trade. The Webinar was presided over by CEO SMEDA Mr. Hashim Raza.
The panellists to the Webinar included Mr. Manzoor Elaahi, Senior Vice President Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Zahid Shinwari, former President Sarhad Chamber and renowned businessman Mr. Shahid Hussain. From public sector, the webinar was addressed by Mr. Akram Zaki, Senior Joint Director, State Bank of Pakistan, Mirza Salman Baig, Deputy Secretary Parliament, Mr. Noorullah, Senior Joint Director Policy Exchange, SBP, Mr. Ghulam Ali Director NAVTEC and Mr. Rashid Aman, Provincial Chief SMEDA-KP. Engineer Tariq Khattak was coordinator of the Webinar.
The speakers were of the unanimous view that to lay down a viable strategy to streamline Pak-Afghan bilateral trade in the mutual interest, the stakeholders from private and public sector should be taken on board. They suggested to form a common forum for broader consultation and review of the former recommendations, suggestions and policies in this regard. The speakers observed that Pak-Afghan trade had a lot of opportunities for Pakistani SMEs, which can broaden the foreign trade prospects to the Central Asian market through Afghan Border.
They said that imports of a number of raw materials for Pakistani Industries could be imported from Central Asian Countries just in 7 days, instead of USA and Europe that take about one and half month to reach Pakistan. The private sector speakers also demanded to stop scanning of import and export consignments on Pak-Afghan Borders to save time of the industry.
They said that the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) to be expired next year also needs broader consultation of the parliamentarian and the business community stakeholders for renewal. The speakers proposed that SMEDA should play role of the focal organ for consultation and coordination of the private and public sector stakeholders to evolve a conducive strategy for streamlining the Pak-Afghan Trade and its linkage with the Central Asian States.
CEO SMEDA Hashim Raza, while concluding the Webinar expressed gratitude to the private and public sector participants and proposed to fix a time barred target of exports’ enhancement through Afghan border. He offered to make SMEDA as a “One-Window Forum” in this regard. But, he confessed that a number of public sector organizations were doing good work on this front. SMEDA may not be the single organization to work on this subject, however, we may develop a policy cohesion by bringing the previous recommendations together for concluding the entire work into a strategy, he added.
He said, we would try to notify a common forum for this purpose that may meet on monthly or quarterly basis to conclude an integrated strategy in the shortest possible time. However, the proposed strategy would be maintaining a balance between government reservations on security and the trade facilitation required by the business community, he added.
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