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Iran launches trade routes through Afghanistan for Central Asia

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(Last Updated On: August 31, 2020)

Two new key trade corridors between Iran and Central Asian countries, through Afghanistan, have been launched and are expected to considerably boost trade activities in the region. 

According to Ruhollah Latifi, spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), the two corridors are the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran (KTAI) route and the Iran-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan corridor. 

He told Tehran Times that the aim of the corridors is to bolster trade via Iranian borders. 

According to IRICA, Iran sent two shipments of goods from Shahid Rajaei Port in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas to Uzbekistan via the newly established Iran-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan corridor a few weeks ago. This was a pilot operation to assess the route and proved successful.

According to IRICA Director of Transit Bureau Mostafa Ayati, the launch of the KTAI route in late July was also successful. 

Ayati said as a short and low-cost route to Central Asian countries under the TIR Convention, the development of transit corridors through Afghanistan is supported by both international bodies and the Iranian government.

He said all stakeholders were determined to develop this sector.

“The pilot opening of this corridor indicates that Afghanistan is seriously determined to develop transit in its territory and connect Central Asian countries to the southern waters, including the ports along the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman (Chabahar),” he noted.

Tehran Times reported that on July 26, Iran sent two truckloads of goods from Shahid Rajaei Port to Kyrgyzstan through the KTAI corridor for the first time.

The corridor was launched by IRICA in collaboration with the International Road Transport Union (IRU), and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) under the framework of the TIR Convention.

The Convention on International Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) is a multilateral treaty that was concluded in Geneva on 14 November 1975 to simplify and harmonize the administrative formalities of international road transport.

A third corridor, India-Iran-Afghanistan route, is another critical route for trade through Iran between India and Afghanistan. This route is already up and running. Recently the seventh shipment of wheat from India for Afghanistan arrived at Chabahar Port. 

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Pakistan to set up markets along Afghanistan-Pakistan border

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(Last Updated On: September 18, 2020)

Pakistan has decided to establish 18 markets along the Pakistan-Iran and Pakistan-Afghanistan borders, Pakistan government said.

Pakistan’s government would establish the markets aimed at boosting trade with the two countries and preventing the menace of smuggling.

The decision was made during a high-level meeting chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday, Khan’s office said in a statement.

“The meeting was told that twelve border markets will be established on the Pak-Afghan border while six border markets will be established on the Pak-Iran border,” the statement read.

“The Prime Minister has approved the establishment of two border market in Balochistan Province and one border market in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a pilot project which will be completed and activated by February.”

Imran Khan’s Office noted that the decision to take more effective measures regarding the prevention of smuggling through borders

Talking about the establishment of border markets, the Prime Minister said that the establishment of markets where the population on border areas, especially youth, will get better business and trade opportunities, will come after fencing on the borders, the statement added.

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Kabul, Tehran review cooperation, agree to draw up new strategy

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2020)

Iran and Afghanistan have agreed to draw up a comprehensive strategic economic document on bilateral cooperation, the head of Iran’s Customs Administration (IRICA) said.

According to Mehdi Mirashrafi, IRICA chief, “facilitating trade, exchanging customs information, solving border problems and developing transit are on the agenda of Iran and Afghanistan.” 

Speaking to journalists after a video conference with Afghan officials, Mirashrafi said: “The two sides decided to prepare a comprehensive strategic economic document, considering the determinations of the two countries for strategic cooperation.”

Tehran Times reported that on the activation of the Iran-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan Tripartite Transit Corridor and the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran (KTAI) Quadripartite Corridor, Mirashrafi said: “This trend shows the serious determination of the Iranian Customs to facilitate transit through Afghanistan and connect Central Asian countries to international waters through the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.”

He also said Chabahar Port was one of the major issues discussed in the meeting.

“The port of Chabahar is an important and vital port for Afghanistan in the field of transit of goods through Iran, and accordingly, the Afghan side has demanded reducing visa fees and transit fees and reconsidering the penalties for customs violations in the transit route through Iran.”

The Chabahar seaport has been a vital development in Afghanistan’s efforts to increase connectivity with the region for trade purposes. 

The port is partly intended to provide an alternative for trade between India and Afghanistan as it is 800 kilometers closer to the border of Afghanistan than Pakistan’s Karachi port.

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Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan drop by 43.6% in July

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(Last Updated On: September 14, 2020)

Pakistan’s exports of goods and services to Afghanistan dropped by 43.61 percent in July against the same period last year, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported. 

According to Pakistan’s The Nation, exports totaled $61.25 million this July against exports to the value of $108.64 last year. 

Imported products from Afghanistan also dropped by 56.7 percent from $9.7 million last July to $4.2 million this year. 

SBP also reported an overall decline in exports to other countries in the same period. In July exports dropped by 14.57 percent from $2.2 billion to $1.89 billion. 

Much of this could be attributed to the closure of all Pakistan’s borders in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Only in June did Pakistan start opening borders again with Afghanistan. 

Three key trade routes — Chaman, Torkham, and Ghulam Khan border crossings opened but had to deal with major backlogs. 

Pakistan and Afghanistan share 18 crossing points. The most commonly used ones are Torkham and Chaman.

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