Lahore - The Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT), in collaboration with the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI), held a conference at the Pearl Continental Hotel in Lahore on Monday to discuss the prospects of increasing trade relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Provincial Minister for Industries Chaudhry Muhammad Shafiq was the chief guest on the occasion, while Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Syed Abrar Hussain and the Nestlé Pakistan Chairman Syed Yawar Ali attended the event besides others.

PAJCCI Chairman Muhammad Zubair Motiwala spoke about the current trade situation between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and called upon both the nations to increase trade activities.

He said, “If both official and unofficial trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan is calculated, which currently is worth $5 billion, then Afghanistan is the third largest trade partner of Pakistan.”

He informed both countries had total 20 joint business ventures, stressing the need for exporting Pakistani automobiles, electronics, furniture, pharmaceuticals and other goods to Afghanistan in large numbers. “Similarly, Afghanistan can export cement, sugar, iron and agriculture equipments to Pakistan,” he said.

He also suggested setting up free trade zones in order to enhance trade between the two countries besides offering tax incentives to the businessmen and revamping Pakistan’s visa system.

“Pakistan may follow India’s Electronic-Visa system, which makes visits by the business community easy,” he suggested.

The Punjab Board of Investment and Trade has also teamed up with PAJCCI to help streamline the various processes and facilitate investment in Pakistan.

Various meetings were held between the businessmen of both the countries.

Director Projects and Policy Research Khurram Afzal Malik gave a presentation on the socio-economic climate of Punjab, in which he gave statistics to show that Punjab was one of the largest consumer markets in the world, with a very young workforce that made it a favourable destination for the foreign investors.

Talking to the media, PBIT CEO emphasised the importance of sending trade relations to Afghanistan, and termed the conference a step in the right direction.

Overall, there was a good turnout at the conference, and great interest was witnessed from both the sides.