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Afghanistan’s Trade with Pakistan ‘Declines’ Up to 60 Percent

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2017)

Afghanistan’s trade value with Pakistan has been declined up to 60 percent since last year, as part of Kabul’s strategic efforts to reduce its reliance on Islamabad, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.  

Trade volume between the two neighboring countries has fallen drastically in the past two years due to frequent border closures, and a prevailing political rift amid allegations of cross-border terrorism.

Khalid Painda, the Deputy Minister of Finance said that Afghanistan wants to have good trade relation with Pakistan, but stressed that Islamabad is not ready for cooperation with Kabul.

“The National Unity Government strategy is to get out of monopoly and have good [trade] relations with different countries,” he said.

A day earlier, President Ashraf Ghani met with Indian top government officials including Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, where he discussed on range of issues including air trade corridor between Kabul and New Delhi and efforts for early operationalization of the Chahbahar Port.

In the meeting Indian side reiterated the readiness of its Integrated Check Post at Attari for receiving Afghan trucks carrying goods to and from India, following the reported move taken by President Ghani to ban Pakistani trucks from entering Afghanistan.

By Shakib Mahmud

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Afghan pine nuts worth $700 million smuggled abroad

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(Last Updated On: December 8, 2021)

The Afghanistan Pine Nuts Production Union said on Monday hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Afghan products and produce including sought-after pine nuts have been smuggled out of the country over the past few years due to the lack of control.

According to union officials, pine nuts worth about $700 million have been smuggled out of the country since April alone, the start of this solar year.

“Pine nuts worth $700 million have been smuggled to other countries and have been sold on world markets under the name of other countries,” said Mahbubullah Gardezi, head of the union.

Afghanistan Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock meanwhile said that 1,000 tons of Afghan pine nuts have been exported legally to China since trade resumed between the two countries last month.

However, Mirwais Hajizada, the deputy head of the chamber, said: “The [volume] of exports doesn’t meet our expectations.”

Economists have in turn called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to facilitate the export of pine nuts and support national traders.

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Afghan currency hits new low against the US dollar

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(Last Updated On: December 7, 2021)

Afghanistan’s national currency, the Afghani, lost significant value against the US dollar on Tuesday trading at a dismal 100 AFN to the dollar.

This was against Monday’s rate of 96.9 AFN to the dollar.

Da Afghanistan Bank, Afghanistan’s Central Bank, said in a statement that the stronger US dollar, as well as the high demand for dollars in Afghanistan, has caused the sharp drop in the value of the AFN.

The Bank in turn called on the public to only use Afghani’s in daily trade transactions in order to help stabilize the national currency.

Economists have said the drop in value of the AFN will directly impact the lives of Afghans, who are already struggling under a collapsing economy.

They said the weak Afghani will lead to an increase in the price of raw materials, fuel, and food supplies as most of these products are imported and paid for in US dollars.

Members of the public have meanwhile also raised concerns about the banking services in the country which have still not returned to normal following the collapse of the previous government.

Banking clients have for months been forced to queue for hours to draw money from banks – which sometimes run out of cash.

“It is too crowded; we came at 3am and already there were 200 people [waiting in line]… after three or four days of waiting you manage to withdraw money,” said Mawlana, a resident of Kabul.

Last month, the Central Bank eased restrictions on withdrawals, allowing people to withdraw up to $400 or 30,000 Afghanis a week and up to $1,200 or 100,000 Afghani per month.

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Donors still to decide on shifting frozen funds for Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Donors to the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) have agreed to decide about a transfer of funds to humanitarian aid agencies by December 10, a World Bank spokesperson said on Friday.

The World Bank’s board this week backed transferring $280 million from the $1.5 billion trust fund, which was frozen after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) took over the Afghan government in August, to the World Food Programme and UNICEF, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the plan.

The World Bank spokesperson gave no details on the proposal, but said ARTF donors met on Friday and agreed to make a decision on transfers out of the fund in one week.

No further details about the ARTF meeting were immediately available.

The U.S. Treasury Department had no comment.

Afghanistan’s 39 million people face a collapsing economy, a winter of food shortages and growing poverty since the Taliban seized power at the end of August as the last U.S. troops withdrew from 20 years of war.

Afghan experts have said the aid would help, but big questions remain, including how to get funds into Afghanistan without exposing any financial institutions involved to U.S. sanctions.

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