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ADB report states 70% of Afghan transit trade diverted through Iran

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: July 23, 2020)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a recent report that although Afghanistan has traditionally relied on Pakistan as a gateway to international shipping routes, recent trends indicate that 70 percent of Afghan transit trade is now diverted through Iran.

The ADB’s Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring (CPMM) Annual Report 2019, published this week, stated that Pakistan is still facing challenges in terms of removing barriers for road transport. 

This shift away from Pakistan has been driven by lower costs from foreign ports and more attractive security deposit and detention tariffs for transit containers from shipping lines that operate at Iran’s seaports.

The report stated that in addition, diesel fuel in Iran ($0.06 per liter) is significantly less expensive than in Pakistan ($0.86 per liter), which provides an additional edge in terms of cost competitiveness. 

Also, in the absence of a formal agreement with Pakistan, shippers and carriers face uncertainty in transit procedures, it added.

The report further stated that the CPMM trade facilitation indicator (TFIs) reported longer average border-crossing time, although relatively unchanged average border-crossing cost.

Total average transport cost showed an improvement, but both measures of speeds showed that trucks did not move as fast compared to 2018. The average border-crossing time between Afghanistan and Pakistan increased to 38.2 hours.

The time to cross Chaman was 60.1 hours, ranked as the most time-consuming border crossing point in 2019.

Peshawar took 45.8 hours and ranked the third most time-consuming, the report stated. 

These samples were estimated from commercial shipments carrying goods destined for Afghanistan as well as Central Asia.

Following the approval of its National Transport Policy in 2018, Pakistan embarked on a series of reforms and initiatives to address structural inefficiencies and impediments, to increase exports through lowering cost and lead time of transportation.

The report recommended the implementation of the national single-window system and port community system (PCS) to reduce cargo dwell time in seaports.

It said better parking area design and queuing systems could improve efficiency and speed up border crossing.

Pakistan does not yet have a domestic regulation on the international carriage of goods on road, which is a fundamental condition to implement the Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR).

The report also stated that greater adoption of freight on rail and inland waterways would reduce freight costs and boost low-unit value exports such as agricultural produce.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have however reactivated talks on the Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement 2010, which aims to attract transit from Central Asia to seaports south of Pakistan, the report stated.


MTN to quit Afghanistan, along with other Middle Eastern countries

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: August 6, 2020)

MTN Group will exit its operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan to become an Africa-only-focused telecommunications operator.

The group said in a statement on Thursday that “MTN has resolved to simplify its portfolio and focus on its pan-African strategy and will, therefore, be exiting its Middle Eastern assets in an orderly manner over the medium term.” 

The group is already in “advanced discussions” to sell its 75 percent stake in its Syrian subsidiary, CEO Rob Shuter said in a call with journalists. It is negotiating with TeleInvest, the 25% owner of the Syrian business, about the sale.

Shuter said the initial focus will be on exiting its operations in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. However, it also plans to divest of its 49 percent of its stake in MTN Irancell in time.

News of the Middle East and Afghanistan exit comes after a lawsuit was filed in the US in April this year that claimed MTN and several other Western businesses aided terrorist organizations in activities carried out against the United States in the region.

Filed on behalf of American service members, civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan, the complaint alleged that MTN paid over $100 million to al-Qaeda and the Taliban so its towers would not be destroyed.

The lawsuit also claimed that MTN would switch off these towers at night, and in doing so, hampered US intelligence operations. reported that MTN previously filed a motion to dismiss the original lawsuit, because it said the court lacks jurisdiction over MTN, which does not operate in the United States, and because the complaint does not allege any conduct by MTN that would have violated the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Following an amendment of the complaint by the plaintiffs in June this year, the operator now anticipates filing another motion to dismiss on largely the same grounds.

“MTN remains of the view that it conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and will defend its position where necessary,” the operator said.

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Air Arabia Abu Dhabi launches new service to Kabul and Dhaka

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: August 4, 2020)

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi has announced the introduction of two new destinations — Kabul in Afghanistan and Dhaka in Bangladesh – with direct flights from Abu Dhabi commencing on August 7.

Initially there will be three flights a week from Abu Dhabi to Kabul, on a Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.


Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was formed following an agreement by Etihad Airways and Air Arabia to establish Abu Dhabi’s first low-cost carrier that follows the business model of Air Arabia and complements the services of Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi thereby catering to the growing low-cost travel market segment in the region.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi started its operations in July 2020 with flights to Alexandria and Sohag in Egypt from Abu Dhabi International Airport.



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Gov’t collects more than 2.2 billion AFN from 10% telecom tax in past seven months

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: August 2, 2020)

The government has logged more than 2.2 billion AFN in tax collection via the 10 percent telecom tax on mobile phone subscribers since the beginning of the current fiscal year. 

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) said Saturday that through the Real-Time Data Management System – a system used for monitoring the collection of the 10 percent taxes from telecom services – it managed to collect the revenue.

“We managed to collect more than 2.2 billion AFN since the beginning of 2020 and handed it over to the government treasury,” said Abdul Samad Hamid Poya, a spokesman for the MCIT.

Experts, however, claimed the Ministry has yet to ensure transparency in the collection process of the 10 percent revenue tax from mobile phone users.

According to them, the ministry failed to provide details about the exact number of active SIM Cards. But Samad Hamid Poya blamed some telecom companies for not providing them information on the issue.

“We acknowledge that the Ministry of Communications has done some of its work, but if the 10 percent tax would be collected transparently the ministry could generate more revenue than what they have shared,” Salim Tufan an economist told Ariana News.

Last year the MCIT installed “Real-Time Data Management” for the collection of tax across the country. The system was aimed at collecting genuine information through connecting with the telecommunication network system to ensure and gain public confidence in the transparency of the collection process of 10 percent telecom tax and other telecommunication revenues.

Since then, the system remained one of the most controversial issues in the Ministry. Critics believe that the system cannot ensure transparency in the mobile tax collection.

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