The Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) on Tuesday said since 2014 Afghanistan’s trade volume with Pakistan has dropped by about 50 percent but that trade with Iran has increased significantly.
The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said Iran has, in this time, replaced Pakistan as Afghanistan’s single biggest trading partner.
According to the ACCI, 25 percent of Afghanistan’s total trade volume is with Iran.
The ACCI said that Afghanistan’s annual trade volume tops $8 billion USD of which nearly $2 billion USD is exchanged between Afghanistan and Iran.
“Our trade volume with Iran has increased since 2014,” MoIC spokesman Musafir Qoqandi said.
“Pakistan's wrong politics have always affected economic issues. Iran also creates problems sometimes, but Pakistan is losing the market and it has almost lost it,” ACCI deputy chief Khan Jan Alokozay said.
Economists however criticized government for its economic policy saying Afghanistan’s share in trade is only through the importation of goods opposed to that of export.
“We are an import country with a 95 percent trade balance deficit. It does not matter from which country we import goods, because we are not a trade partner with Iran; we are a market for them [Iran],” economic analyst Azrakhsh Hafizi said.
Construction material, raw materials and food are the primary goods Afghanistan imports from Iran.
But the ACCI said that in addition to these goods, large quantities of salt, fuel and gas are imported into the country illegally and that illicit trade – between Afghanistan and Iran - amounts to almost $1 billion USD annually.