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August 11, 2020

‘Pak-Afghan transit trade to normalise in a week’

Business

August 11, 2020

LAHORE: Transit trade on Pakistan-Afghanistan border will resume to the pre-corona level in a week, Prime Minister Imran Khan assured business community in a meeting.

“Pak-Afghan border issue has been prolonged for quite some time now and will be resolved in a week,” a statement on Monday quoted Khan as saying after a meeting with a delegation of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). “Blockage will be removed allowing traffic flow to resume as previously before the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The prime minister assured the business delegation that all their proposals would be considered and action would be taken upon them on priority basis.

“All issues and concerns are genuine and require immediate attention,” he said. “In case need be directives will be addressed to the relevant ministries for the follow up till matters are resolved.”

Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar told the meeting that discussions on joint venture with Monsanto on Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton production are underway. FPCCI President Anjum Nisar said there is a significant need for Pakistan to boost its exports to reduce worsening trade deficit. COVID-19 has added to miseries of the export sector amid global slowdown and in the wake of corona pandemic many global brands are facing bankruptcy whose impact will also fall on the export industry of Pakistan, he said.

“While Pakistan trade and industry is facing severe liquidity crunch due to imposition of multiple taxes and the refunds of sales/ income tax worth billions of rupees are stuck with the government, which need to be addressed on priority basis for the survival of our economy,” said Nisar. “COVID-19 pandemic has utmost destructed every business sector and drastically suffered especially in lockdown. It is one of the core challenges for the business community. The agriculture, construction, education, textile, food and tourism sectors are on the verge of extinction.”

FPCCI president said promotion of exports should be given priority. Solution should be found to remove hurdles that are impeding foreign trade particularly exports to Afghanistan and flow of traffic and blockage be removed.

Nisar said small and medium enterprise sector (SME) will require immediate monetary aid. Government should issue zero markup loans to the SMEs for its survival otherwise SME will be shut down due to insufficient funds. The meeting also discussed various avenues of export promotion and problems being faced at port as detention/demurrage charges which are at a higher side than rest of the world and discouraging trade. FPCCI president said wheat quota needs to be increased to stabilise its price and availability in the market.

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh also attended the meeting.