KUNDUZ -- Imports and exports passing through Hairatan port in Balkh province on the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan have started to pick up after a 10-month slowdown, Afghan traders and local authorities say.
"The volume of our exports is very good," said Abdul Sattar Rashid, general director of Hairatan port. "We also import daily between 120 and 140 railway cars of various goods, arriving from Uzbekistan."
"Afghan traders export carpets; licorice; natural herbs; dried fruit and nuts such as almonds, pine nuts and raisins; and vegetables," he said. "Imports by Afghanistan include food items such as flour, rice and oil; steel bars and other necessities."
"Afghan traders export four to five truckloads of goods daily across the border for which tariffs are waived," he said. "We are trying to further increase the volume of our exports."
There are no restrictions regarding the daily export and import of commercial goods in Hairatan port, Rashid said.
"We have exported more than 640,000 tonnes of potatoes, onions, licorice, carpets, gelem [a cheaper type of carpet], sesame, flaxseed, cotton and animal skins via Hairatan port [since last August]," said Sher Ahmad Sepahizada, director of the Industrial Parks unit at the Balkh Department of Commerce and Industries.
"Exports via this port have increased by 82% [in recent months]," he said. "We did not have this volume of exports in the past because of war and insecurity."
Revenue also has increased alongside increased trade between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, according to the Hairatan Border Services Authority, which oversees the loading, unloading and storage of commercial goods.
"The Authority's daily revenue used to be 1 million AFN ($11,000) in previous years, but now it is more than 3 million AFN ($34,000), which is added to the state's coffers," said Authority director Ali Jan Omari.
"Strong control over business transactions, the prevention of corruption and the provision of facilities to large businesses have led to the increase in revenues," he said.
Omari called on the investors and businesses that have left the country to return and invest in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.
Optimism among traders
Traders in northern Afghanistan say they are seeing smooth transactions and an increase in the volume of imports and exports via Hairatan.
Business had slowed down in the province over the past year, but the volume of imports and exports via Hairatan has increased lately and traders are provided some facilities, Mohammad Imran Ahmadi, an Afghan trader in Balkh province, said.
Issues pertaining to importing and exporting have been addressed, he said. The only issues left "are the transfer of money and the timely issuance of visas to the traders".
Challenges in issuing visas to Afghan traders have been a serious problem, he said, adding that many traders have suffered heavy losses because they have been forced to make deals in absentia.
"Borders are not open, and residents are facing challenges," he said. "If Afghan traders are issued visas, borders are opened and timely exports are facilitated, then the country's economy will improve."
"Compared to the past, there are more facilities available to the traders and they do not incur extra expenses," said Mahmood Ramin, a trader in Hairatan.
"Providing more facilities to traders will lead to an increase of commodities such as food, gas and petroleum in the markets," he said.
Days before, I read an opinion of Russian President Putin in a media outlet. He has said that the United States should pay for the war in Afghanistan. I say that not only the United States but also Russia must pay the price for the destruction of Afghanistan. Russia claims to be the legacy of the former Soviet Union, and when so, it must pay the price for the brutal Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the assassination of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin, the killing of one and a half million Afghans, the destruction of Afghanistan and for leaving Afghanistan behind the caravan of development in the world. At the same time, the United States must compensate Afghans for its 2001's invasion of Afghanistan under the guise of the war on terror. American politicians are not only accountable to Afghans but also responsible for the families of their soldiers killed in the war in Afghanistan. It is as clear as the sun that Pakistan has been behind the opponents of the Afghan government for the last 20 years. Pakistan received money and weapons from Russia and China and gave them to the opposition. In addition, Pakistan remitted the money it received from the United States and other Western countries in the name of the war on terror to the armed groups (Taliban and ISIS) who killed Afghans, but despite all this, the international coalition, instead of seeking an explanation from Pakistan for its crimes, gave the country more than $30 billion in money, weapons, and other facilities.Reply
This report proves once again how useful the plans of the former President of Afghanistan can be. President Ghani was always talking about regional connectivity and telling the neighbors that all their interests and survival were protected in the regional connectivity. Still, the neighboring countries thought that they could not achieve their other interests in the presence of the republic, so they all came together and overthrew the republic in an international conspiracy. This is almost a year after the implementation of President Ghani's regional connectivity plans, and neighboring countries are facing the threat of regional and global terrorism; I think if these threats increase, the dream of regional connectivity will remain unfulfilled, and it will never change into reality.Reply
Such a great news indeed. This report indicates that the security and stability in Afghanistan is in the interest of the security and stability in the region. Although so far, Afghanistan is economically not stable, its government has not been recognized by any country, and along with it, the security situation is fragile, but despite this relative stagnation, Afghanistan's trade with neighboring countries is increasing; therefore, Afghanistan's neighbors, especially Iran and Pakistan, who have consumed all their energy to destroy Afghanistan over the past 40 years, must change their destructive policies in Afghanistan in order to make their own economies, prosper and flourish and also to prevent a wave of mass migration to their countries. In addition, if these countries continue to equip and finance terrorist groups in Afghanistan, they themselves will one day burn in the same fire. It is good for them to think once and for the sake of their own peace and stability put an end to the destruction of Afghanistan. Thanks. Shireen AlizaiReply
Although this is good news, it must be clearly said that Afghanistan's imports from other countries are much higher than its exports. If we compare this 82% increase in Afghanistan's exports to Uzbekistan, highlighted in your report, with Afghanistan's imports from Uzbekistan, we would come to know that despite this significant progress, Afghanistan's exports are still very little. Afghanistan has unfortunately become a commercial market for the countries of the region, especially for Iranian and Pakistani products, and these two countries are always trying to disturb and prevent the development of the agriculture sector and industries in Afghanistan, so that Afghanistan will always be in need of their exports and it would always be an implicit market for their commercial goods.Reply
What hopeful news! It made me pleased. Now every Afghan becomes happy to know about such news because our society is approaching a crisis—May this kind of news increase. We request the international community to increase their aid to Afghans in building the economy. Most Afghan investors are ready to invest in Afghanistan, but it does not help Afghans. Afghan businessmen and the international community need to invest in Afghanistan. And if no action is taken in this area, it is not far as, once again, Afghanistan will turn into a battlefield, which will raise issues not only inside the country but also there will be headaches worldwide. The Afghan people have a right to have a better life, and no more foreign wars should be brought to Afghanistan.Reply
Thank you very much, Salaam Times, for publishing such good news. Through Salaam Times, I call on the international community to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their economy. I urge Afghan businessmen and foreign companies to invest in Afghanistan and not allow Afghanistan to become a battleground for the proxy groups of Pakistan, Iran, China, and Russia. Afghans have the right to live in peace and tranquility like the rest of the world. May there always be peace—death to Pakistan and the Pakistani army for supporting terrorists.Reply