ACCI Meets with President Ashraf Ghani

ACCI’s leadership met with H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on evening of 18 April 2015 and shared out what challenges facing private sector in trade and transit with Pakistan, how to encourage new investments and what are major challenges in deal with Iran.

In addition of 60 representatives of private sector, Mr. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, Senior Economic Advisor to President and Mr. Muzamel Shinwari, Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industries also attended the meeting.

President Ghani while appreciating the Parliament to giving confidence vote to 16 Cabinet members, pointed out that economic strategy of government will come into force when the Cabinet members are completed.

His Excellency also spoke on encouraging new investments and offered special privileges. “Who invests 50 billion of dollars has privilege to meet me personally and share out his demands and challenges facing his business. Who invests 200 million of dollars has right to stay in Kota Baghcha Palace (inside of Presidential Palace).” He said

He also underlined that government is determined to pay ways for industries and solve the 18 major challenges they are facing, find out how to make an acceptable balance between import and export rate, make government tenders transparent and remove the barriers in trade and transit with the neighboring countries to forward Afghanistan as Central and South Asia Bridge.

About APTTA, he pointed out that there is a strange will in governments of two countries to resolve trade and transit challenges. Therefore, major challenges have been solved and both government are approaching to remove all barriers.

Mr. Zakhilwal counted down the major barriers which have been solving since travel of President to Pakistan that both government agreed to remove all barriers based on a timetable. Hence, Pakistani Commerce Minister came to Afghanistan with a list of solved items. They are as follow:

1-    Afghan trucks are allowed to commute to Waga Port, the Indian border;

2-    90 percent of Afghan containers are proceeded maximum by one day, the 10 percent remaining by three until seven days;

3-    Timing of transit of Afghan goods from Karachi to Afghan borders is reduced to maximum one week;

4-     “Part Shipment” problem was solved. (It means that if a trader has 10 containers and has received 2 of them only, must was waiting for the remains. Therefore, it was hurting trader costly and timely);

5-    20 percent of Afghan goods are security checked only. (Afghan government is negotiating to reduce it to 5 percent only);

6-    From first of July, Afghan containers are shipped by train.

“But, Afghan traders still are facing several challenges like security checking of Afghan goods by Counter-Necrotic Police of Pakistan and illegal extortion by other divisions of Police. Therefore, we expect Pakistani Government to try their best to solve them soon.”

About APTTA and joining of Tajikistan and India in the transit agreement, Mr. Zakhilwal said that Afghan President also insist about joining of India in the agreement. “If we allow Pakistan to use our soil to reach to Central Asia, so we need to use Pakistani’s soil to reach South Asia too.” He said

At part of the meeting, President Ghani asked private sector to present what challenges are facing their deals with Iran in order to share them with Iranian officials in his travel to Iran. President said that Afghanistan’s international trade and transit should be regulated and balanced with other countries.

About dealing with Iran, Mr. Khatibi, Chairman of Herat Chamber explained the challenges as follow:

1-    Imposition of high tariff on Afghan goods;

2-    Delay in custom proceeding of Afghan containers in Bandar Abbas until 20 days;

3-    High cost of Visa Entry for traders;

4-    Low quality of Iran’s oil.

Mr. Khatibi suggested that both government, Iran and Afghanistan shall get agreement on intergovernmental deal about oil and purchasing the quality oil from main refineries of Iran to make sure about quality.

Mr. Alkozay talked about APTTA and termed it as most complicated transit agreement in the world, whereas international transit are going to be simplified as much as possible. “Due to complication of APTTA and while Afghanistan are going to find out alternative routes and, transit through Pakistan have been decreasing.” He said

Mr. Alkozay also pointed out about quality control of both imported goods and local products. He said that private sectors are interested to create private laboratories with support from government in ports to control quality of all imported goods like currently oil is checked by a private company in eight ports.

At the end of the meeting, President Ghani asked ACCI to organize a Hearing on 20 April 2015 with participation of Mr. Zakhilwal and relevant entities and discuss on the creation of private labs as well as major challenges facing businesses and what applicable solutions are for. And then present the results in the next meeting on 23 April 2015.