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Pak-Afghan trade to be done in Pakistani rupees

Traders welcomed the decision

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 9, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago
Posted: Sep 9, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago

An Afghan boy at a vegetable market in Lahore. Photo: Online

Pakistan has agreed to do trade with Afghanistan in Pakistani rupees given Afghanistan’s shortage of dollars since international donor agencies have withheld $10 billion, leading to a shortage of the greenback in that country.

Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said this while briefing a Senate Standing Committee on Finance. He added that Pakistan could send skilled manpower to Afghanistan as well.

Traders welcomed the statement. According to them, trade in fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products had been allowed. An online meeting about trade was held in Islamabad yesterday in which all the chambers and trade bodies gave input to add more items to the list and suggested how a barter system could be maintained along with a cash counter facility for deposits for exports in advance.

Zubair Motiwala, the chairman of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce, said the two countries had traded in Pakistani rupees before, but the trade did not have legal protections. This prevented refunds. Talking to SAMAA Digital, Motiwala said that the volume of trade between these two countries had reached $2.7 billion by fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, which dipped below $1 billion later on. Last year, there was some recovery and bilateral trade rose to $1.2 billion. Pakistan’s share in total trade was about 60% in terms of export revenue. According to Motiwala, the volume could be multiplied.

Malik Bostan, the chairman of the Forex Association of Pakistan, said trade in local currency between the two countries will reduce demand for US dollars, which will benefit both countries and strengthen local currencies. He pointed towards Afghanistan’s vast reserves of minerals, which has a major buyer in China that eyed copper and gypsum.

Shahid Hussain, the senior vice president of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce, said that the shortage of dollars in Afghanistan is a major problem. Therefore, trade in Pakistani rupees will also benefit Pakistan. Hussain stressed both governments should make doing business easier for traders on both sides of the border.

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