KARACHI: US facilitation in establishing internationally accredited Trading houses across the border to facilitate business community would be a significant contribution: Muhammad Zubair Motiwala PAJCCI office bearers were invited at US Consul General’s Residence in Karachi for a luncheon meeting for discussing the critical issues across the border and understanding PAJCCI’s stance over those matters. H.E. Mr. Richard Olson, Ambassador US Embassy welcomed the delegates including Mr. Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, Mr. Khan Jan Alkozai, Mr. M. Yonass Momand, Mr. Usman Bilour, Engr. Daroo Khan along with Secretary Generals – Ms. Faiza Nasir (Pakistan) and Mr. Ahmadullah Afghan (Afghanistan).
Ambassador while talking about Afghan Transit Trade raised his concern pertaining to post 2014 scenario and was interested in knowing what US government can do further in collaboration with PAJCCI to foster relations between the two countries.
Mr. Motiwala thanked Ambassador and Consul General for the invitation and elaborated on the vision of PAJCCI in enhancing bilateral trade across border through exchange of trade delegations, B2B meetings, inter-ministerial interactions and improvement in policies and procedures.
He also elaborated on significant challenges faced in initial 6 months and outlined the achievements attained by this Chamber in a short span of time including Arbitration across the border, resolution of 8 most important pressing issues related to APTTA agreement which were accepted in APTCCA meeting held in October 2012, constant coordination with Ministries and FBR to help resolve issues, meeting with Prime Minister Pakistan in January 2013 to resolve issues of stranded containers of Afghan importers, resolution of issues pertaining to ISAF / NATO containers scam and cases of custom clearing agents, launching a Trade Survey across border etc. Mr. Motiwala stressed that importance of this forum is to ensure depoliticizing of business activities between the two countries and to curb unscrupulous elements operating at both the sides. He emphasized that only fiscal reforms are the solution through rationalizing the tariffs that will curb the tendency towards parallel trade. This will help Afghanistan in raising revenues through custom duties and when parallel trade will move into mainstream trade it will improve trade balance of Pakistan by $1.9 billion that would wipe off current account deficit which is only $1.2 billion, which surely is a win-win situation.
He sought facilitation from US Embassy in development of trading houses across the borders to reap significant benefits in terms of mutual business development across the border and to enhance confidence between the two countries.
Mr. Motiwala also reiterated that projects or opportunities extended by US Embassy and USAID in Afghanistan should be communicated to Pakistani business community through PAJCCI platform to strengthen bilateral ties.
Mr. Khan Jan Alkozai acknowledged role of US government in the process of developing APTTA agreement between the two countries and extended gratitude to Mr. Zubair Motiwala and British High Commission along with CIPE – US to facilitate the process of establishing this very significant platform, PAJCCI. He also thanked Ministry of Commerce in both the countries for accrediting the entity and providing support when needed. He reiterated that Karachi Port is fundamentally very important for us but due to severity of relations and lack of trust the business is being moved to Iran which is not on Afghanistan’s priority list. Smuggling cannot be decreased as currently its source of livelihood for people on the border in both the countries. It will only be resolved once job opportunities and better business prospects are facilitated by governments in both the countries. He stressed that US Government should intervene in ensuring resolution of mutual issues for the long-term stability and relationship between both the nations and APTTCA meetings must be conducted after every 6 months as per commitment to observe common issues and for their immediate resolution. He said despite all political upheavals the socio-cultural connectivity across the border would strengthen irrespective and PAJCCI is ensuring the same with full commitment and zeal.
Mr. Usman Bashir also deliberated upon issues faced by KPK due to movement of transit trade to Iran and challenges faced by custom clearing agents and resulting unemployment. He stressed that resolution may only be attained if businesses interact with each other and entities like US Embassy and USAID play its role more constructively.
Ms. Faiza, Secretary General requested Ambassador to help arrange Pakistan Afghanistan Investment Conference on the same lines as that was organized recently in Dubai, whereby Pak-Afghan bilateral ties were deliberated upon in detail as well. She also requested that at such forums and in tenders authorized by US Embassy and USAID in Afghanistan PAJCCI should be kept in loop and members of PAJCCI may be facilitated in this context. She also mentioned submission of draft proposal under US Ambassador’s Fund for launching a series of awareness and business building seminars across the border that would help the businessmen significantly in understanding the significance of a documented economy.
He reiterated that Peaceful, Prosperous and Progressive Pakistan is answer to extremism and terrorism and this can be only be attained if we segregate business from politics as empty stomachs are easy to buy but employed nation focus on development and peace only.
Ambassador acknowledged the role of PAJCCI in such a short span of time and wished the office bearers success and ensured full support from his office. He also sought proposal from Mr. Motiwala on establishing trading houses across the border and showed great confidence in the potential of PAJCCI team.
Mr. Motiwala and Mr. Alkozai presented shield of PAJCCI to H.E. Ambassador US Embassy as a gesture of thanks and acknowledgment and invited them to B2B meeting and Dinner organized by PAJCCI for the delegation arrived in Karachi from Afghanistan since September 25, 2013.