The Pakistani government should encourage trade with Afghanistan to be conducted using local currency, the chairman of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) recommended.
PAJCCI Chairman, Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, said that trade with Afghanistan has declined by 50 percent since the Taliban formed a new government.
“The current situation in Afghanistan has brought immense business opportunities for Pakistan, and if the trade in Rupee would be allowed, it will not only strengthen the Rupee value, but would also help reduce our current trade deficit drastically,” Motiwala explained.
He said that Afghani traders are willing to use the Pakistani Rupee (PKR), instead of the US dollar (USD), amid depleting dollar reserves in their country.
Afghanistan is currently experiencing a supply shortage of US dollars (USD), which has raised concerns over economic instability and has prompted an outflow of dollars from Pakistan. This has, in turn, weakened the value of the Pakistani Rupee.
“It is time we move forward to increase our export footprint in Afghanistan and make it our second largest export destination,” Motiwala added. “With a relatively more friendly government in Afghanistan, the trade can easily be enhanced to $10 billion in the long run and $5 billion within the next couple of years.”
The chairman urged the government to develop Pakistan’s trading relationship with Afghanistan, and take advantage of new economic opportunities with the country, adding that “prevailing policies and structure” are making an investment by Afghani businesspeople “unfeasible.”
He said, “The sanctity of Pakistan and Afghanistan is of prior concern and PAJCCI stands by all relevant measures that are required to be taken. However, proactive economic measures will aid in enhancing the business spectrum for both countries.”
President PAJCCI, Jawed Bilwani, said that procedural barriers and a shortage of containers are causing delays in Pakistan-Afghanistan trade. He urged the government to provide secure land routes, not just for trade with Afghanistan but for trade with other countries like Iran and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).