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Pakistan’s market share in Afghanistan shrinking

Pakistan’s market share in Afghanistan shrinking

Mar 04, 2018 - 10:22

PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Pakistan has lost more than 50 per cent of its market share in Kabul over the last two years when India expanded its foothold in Afghanistan, a business leader says.

Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) Chairman Zubair Motiwala said in an interview that penetration by both India and China had left Pakistan with limited options.

Motiwala, who recently visited Kabul, told Dawn India had heavily subsidises its exports to the war-hit country. Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan slumped to $1.2 billion from $2.7 billion in the last two years.

As Pakistan lost even its traditional markets of flour, clothes and red meat, he said, India was offering a 75 percent rebate air tickets. The Afghans find it easy to travel to India on cheap tickets and free multiple visas.

Cheaper products from China and India had flooded Afghanistan, Motiwala said, adding Pakistani exports had dropped to $1.271bn in 2017 from $1.437bn in 2016. Exports in the first quarter of 2017-18 stood at $319 million, he continued.

Thousands of Afghans, who used to visit Peshawar for medical treatment, now prefer travelling India. “Medical tourism of Peshawar, which was mainly due to Afghans, is now at zero level. Hospitals in Hayatabad are empty.”

Of the 200 flour mills in Peshawar, about 100 have been closed down due to a significant decline in exports to Afghanistan, said the PAJCCI chairman, who also noted a fall in containers’ traffic from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Motiwala recalled 70,000 goods containers used to travel between the two countries. But the number has now slumped to 7,000.

Pakistan was the biggest supplier of shalwar-qameez suits to Kabul but that too has changed since both India and China are now supplying readymade suits -- traditional Pakistani products.

Imports from the neighbouring country surged to $68m in 2017 from $40m a year ago, reveals date from the State Bank of Pakistan.