JALALABAD (PAN have plummeted by more than a 50 percent in the past three years, a trader representative said on Sunday.
Exports of fresh fruits and vegetables from eastern Nangarhar province to Pakistan through the Torkham border crossing have been at a standstill, said Mohammad Qasim Yousafi, regional head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
Blaming the situation on government’s negligence, he recalled that onion exports to the neighbouring country in 2010 stood at 113,000 metric tonnes, but dropped to 43,000 metric tonnes last year. The exports fell to 39,000 metric tonnes this year.
He complained the exports of aluminum ash, waste papers, used plastics, raisin, rue, coriander, dried onion and precious stones had come to a full stop. The export of other raw materials has also decreased several times.
However, he explained the export of hides for processing in Pakistan had jumped. Yousafi linked the massive drop to the government’s apathy toward the development of the local industry and resolving the problems being faced by exporters.
He slammed the agriculture ministry’s failure to launch effective programmes for the promotion of locally produced products, including the construction of cold storage facilities.
If the commerce ministry had facilitated traders and Pakistan had honestly implemented a transit trade agreement, the decline could have been prevented, he believed.
Entrepreneur Dr. Mukhlis Ahmad said Pakistan was facilitating Afghan raw material exporters because Islamabad sold their products, after processing, to European countries with its own labels. “Pakistan doesn’t allow us to take our raw materials to its ports as Afghan products.”
Customs Director Ihsanullah Kamawal confirmed the export of Afghan agriculture products to Pakistan had declined by a half. “The real problem is a shortage of facilities at home to stop fruits and vegetables going rotten…”
Ministry of Commerce and Industries spokesman Wahidullah Ghazikhel said talks with Pakistani officials were ongoing on the implementation of the transit trade accord. He added a list of several products had been sent to Pakistan, informing the neighboring country about the problems being faced by Afghan traders.
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