On May 18, 2020, Harakat held an online Public Private Dialogue (PPD) on COVID-19 impacts on Afghanistan’s exports and Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment’s (ACCI) achievements in the export industry. The event was held in collaboration with the ACCI.
Attendees of this PPD were representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, Ministry of Transportation, Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry, General Director of ACCI, and over 70 export companies. Afghan traders from across the country joined in from Andkhoy, Balkh, Farah, Herat, Kabul, Kunduz, Nangarhar, and Paktia provinces, and internationally from Australia, United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, Dubai, and Pakistan.
The online PPD commenced with the General Director of ACCI, CEO of ACCI, CEO of Harakat, and the Deputy of Ministry of Commerce by sharing the objectives of the event and the problems that the export communities are confronted with in the country. Participants had the opportunity to share their concerns and comments on the issues as well. Following the discussion among the exporters, the ACCI reassured the participants that their problems and suggestions will be shared with the government officials.
Below is list of the main issues related to trade that were raised and discussed by participants:
Mr. Ahmad Farhad Hoshmand, businessman, shared that there have been constant problems in the borders with Pakistan and Russian. He elaborated that on the Russian side of borders, the containers that belong to Afghanistan, are opened and traders are demanded to pay money. Mr. Hoshmand requested that the Afghan government resolve such mishandling of goods with the neighboring countries.
Mr. Qader Wazir, a businessman from Paktika, shared few issues in addition to the following suggestions for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry:
Haji Abdul Hamid, a businessman from Kandahar, expressed that Afghanistan exports 80% of its commodities to Pakistan. Consequently, there needs to be and exchange of dialogue and solicitation with Pakistan to keep its borders open. The onus lies on the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to have regular communication with Pakistan in this aspect. Afghanistan’s fresh fruits are mostly exported through Pakistan’s border. However, when the season of fresh fruits begins, Pakistan increases its taxes and tariffs on the Afghans exporters. He proposed that this issue must be addressed immediately with Pakistan through the Afghan government.
Ahmad Shah, an Afghan businessman in Pakistan, said that they are faced with many challenges in Pakistan as they export Afghan commodities via Karachi’s port. Henceforth, Mr. Shah requested that the Afghan government make the Chahbahar port operational as an alternative.
Sayed Abbas, an Afghan businessman in Australia, shared that the ACCI has only supported the export of fresh and dry fruits, while the Afghan carpet businesses are neglected. There have been substantial investments in this sector, but in the meanwhile the sector has faced numerous challenges. Mr. Abbas requested for the ACCI to be mindful and supportive of the carpet exporters’ challenges. He also advocated that the ACCI help export carpets to the United States via the air corridor. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the carpet sector as most carpet factories have closed down and have collapsed. Mr. Abbas asked that the Afghan government support the carpet industry in this critical time.
Mr. Gulmurad Rasul, a businessman from Nangarhar, shared that the Turkham border is open and he also expressed that Pakistan’s government has abided on its promise to kept the border open 24 hours.