TEHRAN (Iran News) – Iran has a 30 percent share in Afghanistan’s import market, said the chairman of the Iran-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Hossein Salimi added that this comes as Afghans are willing to increase imports of Iranian products.
Iran can meet at least 50 percent of Afghanistan’s import needs, he noted.
Describing as low and unsatisfactory the level of trade transactions between the neighbors, Salimi said in the previous Iranian calendar year (ending March 19), exchanges between the two sides stood at between $2.7 billion and $3 billion, which fail to be an acceptable figure in view of the countries’ approximately 1,000-kilometer common border.
The trade balance is in Iran’s favor, he noted, putting Afghanistan’s total annual imports at up to $8 billion, of which $3 billion is purchased from Iran.
Salimi said Iran can easily export products worth up to $4.5 billion per year to Afghanistan given the two countries’ lengthy common border, cultural commonalities and long history of trade.
“Afghanistan exports products, mainly comprising agricultural crops, valued at $40 million per year to Iran. In fact, overseas sales by Afghanistan to Iran have never been a high figure as the country fails to have many products capable of being exported.”
He listed major Iranian exports as foodstuffs, including canned food.
“Iranian food products are very popular in Afghanistan as Afghans’ taste is very similar to that of Iranians and many migrants from the country have lived in Iran at least for a while. They have gotten used to the taste of our foods and, at present, are keen on boosting imports of halal foods and nonalcoholic beverages from Iran.”
He said in view of the high demand for and popularity of Iranian soft drinks in Afghanistan, an Iranian soft drink production company, based in the northeastern city of Mashhad, plans to set up a production line in the country through Afghans’ joint investment.
“The production line is expected to become operational by the end of 2020.”
Commenting on the three-month hiatus in trade transactions between the two countries due to the spread of the coronavirus, Salimi noted that since late March, goods exchanges, transportation as well as land and truck transits between the neighbors have been stopped.
“During this period, the transactions of goods between the two countries were limited to the things traded in border markets. However, since June 21, exchanges have been resumed, enabling the trucks that had waited for up to two weeks behind the common border to unload their cargoes.”
At present, he said, the two countries have defined hygiene protocols and are enforcing health regulations at border crossings for trade, describing cargo transportation and trade transactions between the two sides as almost normal.
He urged the two countries to reduce tariffs on export items so as to be able to raise the level of bilateral trade.
Due to a number of problems, Iran has not been able to put in a successful performance in terms of exporting techno-engineering services to Afghanistan, Salimi noted, citing delayed payments by Afghan employers as the main reason for Iranian contractors’ reluctance to implement projects in the country.
He said Afghanistan is interested in using Iran’s techno-engineering services in building bridges and overpasses as well as constructing railways, dams and airports, as Iran has advanced capabilities in these fields.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews