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Iran biggest trade partner of Afghanistan in 2017-18

Iran biggest trade partner of Afghanistan in 2017-18

KABUL: Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries said Iran was Afghanistan’s biggest trade partner in the last solar year (March 2017-18) and exported goods worth over $1.98 billion to the neighboring country.

ACCI said trade volume was $1.2 billion between Afghanistan and Pakistan and $1 billion with China in the same period.

“Now Iran is our biggest (trade) partner,” ACCI deputy chief, Khan Jan Alokozay, told TOLOnews.

“Iran has overtaken Pakistan’s place, which means we have more than $2 billion in imports and exports with Iran. Imports are high but exports are a lot less. Meanwhile, transit is also good through that route (Iran).”

According to ACCI, Afghanistan’s trade volume with all countries for the year totals $7 billion.

Afghan economist, Qais Mohammadi, said the Afghan government should increase exports, as the value is a lot less than that involving imports.

“In order to increase exports of a country, there should be a focus on products other countries need (from Afghanistan), but the government has not worked on this matter so far,” he said.

Afghanistan’s main imports from Iran are construction materials, food and fuel. ACCI’s statistics show Afghanistan exported at least 1 million tons of goods last year, particularly to Pakistan.

According to Afghanistan’s commercial attaché to Iran, Jaber Ansar, Iran holds a 22% share ($2.5 billion) from Afghanistan’s $11.5 billion consumer market.

Among the 500 companies licensed to operate in Iran’s Chabahar, 165 are reportedly Afghan. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industries said Iran has provided special incentives to Afghan investors at Chabahar.

“The problem of getting visas for Afghan investors to Iran has been solved and efforts are underway to provide further facilities to our investors,” Yahya Akhlaqi, transit director at the Afghan ministry, has been quoted as saying.

Afghan news agency Wadsam cited the economic attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Kabul, Mohammad Reza Karimzadeh, as saying that Iran is offering an 80% discount in export tariffs and a 75% discount on import duties to Afghan traders using Chabahar.

Tehran, New Delhi and Kabul signed a trilateral agreement in Tehran to develop Chabahar in May 2016. Afghanistan is a major destination for Iranian exports. The first phase of Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti Port was inaugurated by President Hassan Rouhani in December last year.