New restrictions to impact Afghan-Pak trade ties

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have historically been tensing. Cross-border infiltration, refugees, drug trafficking, militant groups, and disputes over counterterrorism policy and dialogue with terrorist networks have contributed to an entrenched trust deficit and have eroded relations.
These issues have impacts beyond the security sector, complicating efforts to build stronger trade and economic ties. Despite tensions, the two countries have remained the largest trading partner in the region.
Amid increasing efforts to develop the shaky ties between Kabul and Islamabad that have already been in sever tensions on different occasion, in a fresh move, the Pakistani government has put fresh restriction on Afghanistan’s transit trucks and exporting goods.
According to Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the new restrictions, have been pushing the traders to transit their goods via trucks that have tracers, where the majority of them don’t have tracer trucks, making it tough to do business.
“This issue should be negotiated, Afghanistan should provide its plans and offers to find a solution for it,” the chamber added, saying the decision would affect the Pakistan’s economy as well.
This comes as the Afghan traders have often faced drastic challenges and restriction by the Pakistani government in “Torkham” port – the biggest transit gate between Afghanistan and Pakistan which is located on the Durand Line. Afghan transporters also frequently complain about the complicated procedures they are subjected to, which impacts the price of the goods that they are carrying and causes delays
The increasingly cold, stalled and often tense ties mostly initiated by Pakistani side have practically wiped out the country’s traditional market share, allowing new players such as the Central Asian countries, Turkey, China and India to replace it in landlocked Afghanistan.
The private sector of the two neighboring countries with the support of western diplomatic missions had established the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) seven years ago in March 2012 to overcome the issues, which have worsened instead of being resolved. At the initial steps, the Afghans hoped the move ensure that their shipments would no longer get delayed for unknown reasons while Pakistani traders eyed to access the Central Asian markets via the war-ravaged country.
Indeed, peaceful economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan and improved trade and transit facilities would help connect South Asia with Central Asia. Export-led economic growth would be expected to increase domestic employment in both countries and provide foreign exchange to import commodities manufactured more cheaply somewhere else.
Afghan officials see India and Pakistan as the two primary markets for Afghanistan but face obstacles in realizing this goal. Afghan officials, particularly the National Unity Government leaders, are seeking to position the country as a corridor linking Pakistan and Central Asia, but also seek gains of their own through reduced operational barriers to trade and uninterrupted trade access to Pakistani markets and that of India.

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