In the current fiscal year, Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan fell drastically while imports rose sharply, resulting in a bilateral trade balance in favour of the war-torn neighbour for the first time.
After the Taliban retook power in August, Pakistan increased bilateral cooperation and promised trade concessions to aid the landlocked country in overcoming deteriorating humanitarian and economic challenges.
Pakistani exports to Afghanistan have decreased to roughly $700 million in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, down from more than $900 million the previous year, according to a spokesperson for the trade ministry in Islamabad.
The change is attributed mainly to increased purchases of Afghan coal and an “extremely good quality” cotton by Pakistan in recent months.
Meanwhile, imports from Afghanistan have climbed to more than $700 million, up from $550 million last year, according to the spokeswoman.
US sanctions on the temporary Taliban government, the absence of banking networks and the non-availability of dollars in Afghanistan, as well as a dip in demand for some Pakistani items, have all contributed to a drop in Pakistani exports.
However, a spokesperson for the trade ministry told VOA that Pakistani exports to Central Asian countries via Afghanistan had increased by 70% to $202 million in the last 11 months, up from $118 million the previous year.
Between Pakistan and Afghanistan, there are five completely operating border crossings.
In recent years, Pakistan has fenced off its almost 2,600-kilometer Afghan border, which has traditionally been porous, and strengthened immigration procedures.