The Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa CAMEA at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) organized a webinar on Pak-Afghan Economic Ties: Opening New Vistas on November 14, 2022. The distinguished speakers included, Ambassador Mansoor Ahmed Khan, Pakistan’s Former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Sardar Ahmad Shakeeb, Charge d’ Affairs/Minister Counselor, Afghanistan Embassy, Islamabad, Mr. Haroon Sharif, Former Minister of State and Chairman Board of Investment, Shinwari, Former Deputy of the International Trade Department at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Afghanistan, Mr. Adnan Jalil, Peshawar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Mr. Hashim Pashtun, Kabul Institute of Peace. The webinar was moderated by Ms. Amina Khan, Director of the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA). Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General, ISSI and Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman Board of Governors also participated in the webinar.
While giving her introductory remarks, Ms. Amina Khan, stated that in a rapidly changing world, which is fast transitioning from geo-politics to geo-economics, regional economic integration and regional connectivity have gained utmost importance. She further explained that the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan is unique, as both countries complement each other in terms of trade and economic opportunities through bilateral and transit trade. Since August 2021, we have seen an increase in trade activity between the two, with Afghan exports to Pakistan, jumping from $550 million to $700 million; this can be attributed to bilateral cooperation and trade-related concessions by Pakistan, increased purchases of Afghan coal and the introduction of an operationalized Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) Torkham. She further opined that while Pakistani exports may have declined to Afghanistan, its exports to Central Asian countries through Afghanistan rising by 70 % from $118 million to $202 million in the last 11 months. The decline in Pakistani exports can be attributed to ongoing US sanctions, the absence of banking channels and non-availability of dollars in Afghanistan, as well as a drop in demand for certain Pakistani goods. She concluded by saying that despite the current hurdles and imbalances in trade, a lot more can be done to further the true potential of trade between the two through bilateral and transit trade.