ISLAMABAD: Chairman PAJCCI, Zubair Motiwala has requested urgent meeting with Minister of Finance and Governor State Bank of Pakistan to discuss the issue of declining trade with Afghanistan as a result of recent change in policy and to explore innovative solutions while keeping international conditions imposed by FATF and other global entities.

Business community from both sides has shared their concerns regarding non-issuance of E-Form and EIF halting both exports and imports whereby creating congestion at borders due to non-clearance of trucks as a result of restrictive banking policies. It may be noted that EIF is also not being issued since 2 months even for CARs. The traders demand abolishing the said documents till the appropriate procedure may be devised, as non-issuance of these forms lead to decline of transaction by WeBoC, halting consignments and also affecting refund requests made by the traders.  The sectors that are churning major revenues for Pakistan like coal, cement, soapstone and other consumerables are facing the hit and uncertain to reap benefits from recent opening with CARs.

Zubair Motiwala, in his recent meeting has also apprised the Advisor on Commerce & Industry on high impact issues like developing a formal mechanism for barter trade, facilitating trade in PKR, withdrawal of Cash on Counter facility, requirement of advance payments, reluctance of correspondence banks to accept third party payment in case of Afghanistan and the congestion at border resulting due to delayed checking and payment issues raised due to SBP’s change in policy. Chairman PAJCCI also urged setting up bank counters at borders so payments can be made at the spot without delaying shipments and creating congestion.

It is public knowledge that at present Afghanistan has no operational banking nor they have USD reserves, traders cannot bring more than PKR 10,000 while crossing borders while consignment values are way higher than allowable limit of cash carrying. In case payments to be made in USD, traders will eventually buy them in Pakistan hence impacting Pakistan’s Foreign reserves and USD crunch in local market. Traders cannot bring USD from Afghanistan due to unavailability, additionally Afghan government has restricted USD movement.

PAJCCI most vociferously demands that  Pakistan should and must take all measures to become the reliable and dependent trade, economic and social partner of Afghanistan and not to leave trade gap which can be filled by hostile elements and will give rise to illegal means. This will also have ripple effect on trading with Central Asia, as number of consignments are stuck at border due to payment confusions.