PESHAWAR: Private sector representatives from Pakistan and Afghanistan met on Wednesday to boost prosperity and create jobs in both countries.

The participants in this US government-facilitated event addressed a range of trade issues between the two countries that have held back growth of the cross-border economy, says a press release.

The “Pakistan-Afghanistan Bilateral Trade – Private Sector Perspectives, Strategy and Recommendations” conference was a first-of-its-kind, cross-border dialogue.  At an event organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) the participants met virtually because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants included the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Chaman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as a number of Afghanistan chambers of commerce and a variety of logistics service providers, transport operators, and traders from both countries.

The participants highlighted a desire to forge closer cross-border private sector partnerships and government ties to promote trade between the two countries.  Many of the participants expressed concerns over unscheduled closures of border crossing points, slow clearing processes, lack of facilities at the Torkham border, and increasing transport costs.  They also supported the creation of a core team of representatives from all participants to plan subsequent coordination efforts with the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This inaugural virtual discussion sets the stage for a sustained and continued effort to improve trade relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.