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Aug 06 - 12 , 2001

Unofficial trade with Kabul stands at $941m

Unofficial trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been estimated nearly $941 million during the year 2000-2001, out of the $1,227 million total exports of Afghanistan, a survey report of the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank disclosed.

The survey report, "Afghanistan Watching Brief", jointly compiled by the UNDP and the World Bank revealed that the value of unofficial trade with Pakistan was sharply lower in 2000-2001 as compared to 1996-97. The report disclosed that the bulk of exports from Afghanistan worth $941 million found their way into Pakistan and about $140 million to Iran, while the rest $146 million found its market in the Central Asian Republics including Uzbekistan and Tajikistan through unofficial routes.

The survey said that the official exports of Afghanistan with Pakistan are estimated only $98 million. Afghanistan's indigenous export items are fruits, nuts and other primary materials. In 1999, Pakistan was ranked as the largest trading partner of Afghanistan (exports to Pakistan $90m, imports $36m), Japan was ranked second with total trade of $74 million, while Kenya and India followed on the list.

The survey report covers all major sectors including food security, trade with neighbouring countries, agriculture, health, education and de-mining of the war-ravaged country. The survey did not observe significant unofficial exports to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Afghanistan's bilateral trade with Turkmenistan consisted of $38 million of imports and $1 million exports.

Total size of unofficial imports of Afghanistan is estimated $176 million of which $94 million were imported from Iran and $82 million from Pakistan, while unofficial trade from Central Asian Republics were insignificant in 2000. According to the survey report that was launched in June 2001, the unofficial imports from Pakistan totalled $82 million, consisting of wheat, sugar, rice, edible oil, fertilisers and other daily use items.

Khatami wants better trade ties

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said on Sunday he wanted to strengthen economic links with Pakistan and improve ties in the "battle against terrorism," radio said.

Khatami made the declaration during a meeting with Pakistan's deputy foreign minister, Inamul Haq, who is visiting Iran, the radio said.

"The two countries have suffered considerably from terrorist damage, violence and inter-faith conflicts," added Khatami who received a message from Gen Pervez Musharraf on his recent meeting with India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. "We must fight against those who do not understand the language of strength," added Khatami, in reference to acts of violence against minority sect in Pakistan.

Iran to import motor spirit

Iran has agreed to import Pakistan's surplus motor spirit (premier) provided it meets Tehran's specifications. Official sources told that Pakistan had asked Iran to import its motor spirit which became surplus after the commissioning of Mid-Country Refinery at Mehmood Kot, Multan, at a recent Joint Ministerial Commission meeting.

The Iranian side informed Pakistan that it would import the item on international terms and conditions, provided that the "specification and cargo size requirement were met." Experts believe that export may not be possible as the specifications of Iranian motor spirit are different from those of Pakistan.

Export problem

Problems confronting export trade came up for discussion in a meeting held on Thursday between minister of state and chairman EPB, Tariq Ikram and CBR chairman Riaz Ahmed Malik.

Tariq Ikram briefed the CBR chairman about the export performance of the last year in which exports of the country crossed $9 billion mark for the first time in the history of the country.

Pakistan products store in Sharjah

The Pakistani products store, specializing in the exclusive sale of a wide variety of Pakistani products under one roof, was inaugurated in Sharjah on Thursday.

This is the second store in the UAE selling only Pakistani products. It has been established by a private sector group run by two brothers, which pioneered in selling single country products by opening a similar Pakistani products store in Abu Dhabi four years ago on an experimental basis.

10pc duty on import of aircraft parts

The government has notified 10 per cent duty on import of aircraft spares and parts if imported by domestic airlines for maintenance of their aircraft within the country.

To boost the domestic airlines the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) will now charge only 10 per cent ad val customs duty on the import of spares and parts. The action will be deemed to be effective from June 18, 2001.

Import of Indian sugar allowed

The government has allowed the import of 50,000 tons of sugar from India through the Wagah border, notwithstanding a campaign launched by the local sugar industry against the government, a senior official told on Wednesday.

"The Letters of Credit (LCs) for the import of 109,000 tons sugar have expired but LCs worth 50,000 tons are still valid. We have opened Wagah border to allow this quantity to come in," said the official of the ministry of industries and production. The decision came following an examination and verification by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet of a report submitted by the State Bank governor that no backdated or revised LC was issued to any sugar importer.

Preferential trade facility

Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) chairman Aslam Ahmed Karsaz has drawn the attention of the government towards such developments where preferential trade facility is being given by the US government to some countries ahead of phasing out of Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) by the year 2005.