Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan has fallen sharply by more than 50% from $ 2.7 billion in the financial year 2015-16 to $ 1.2 Billion in the financial year 2016-17. This was revealed by Zubair Motiwala the Chairman of Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday.
As per Motiwala, India and China’s penetration has resulted in Pakistan struggling to retain its market share and is even losing out in its traditional markets like red meat, flour and clothing. India is triumphing Pakistan via subsidising its exports and is even selling air tickets with a 75% rebate.
It is also noted that the Indian goods are replacing their Pakistani counterparts in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul with the help of cheaper products and in the process are damaging Pakistan’s already troubled economy.
India’s focus to capture Afghan market has also resulted in the Afghan nationals preferring to travel to India for medical treatment. Earlier their preferred medical destination used to be Peshawar and Hyderabad in Pakistan which now wear a deserted look.
Peshawar has also been hit in the form of its 100 flour mills closing due to a drastic fall in Afghan demand. The magnitude in the fall of trade can be gauged by the fact that container traffic between the two countries has dropped to just 7,000 from a previous figure of 70,000.
It though isn’t clear what is the total contribution of India and China each when it comes to the reduction in Pakistan’s share. The possible prospect of China hurting Pakistan’s economy is also ironic considering the both keep boasting about being all weather friends.
Such a development comes after reports have been emerging about Pakistan being worried about India’s influence in Afghanistan, the fears which have also been acknowledged by the United States.
India and Afghanistan’s rising trade cooperation can also be gauged by the reports of India flagging off its first wheat shipment to Afghanistan via Iran’s Chabahar port. This had meant that both the countries established a trade route which didn’t involve Pakistan as an intermediary. Earlier trade between India and Afghanistan was a major hassle as Afghanistan being a landlocked country, was totally dependent on Pakistan for sea access.