As part of its initiative to open aerial corridors to try to diminish reliance on Pakistan’s transit routes, Afghanistan inaugurated an air freight corridor with China on Tuesday by exporting 20 tons of pine nuts in first ever air cargo flight to the country. The new trade route allowed Afghanistan for the first time to export one of its expensive fruits to Chinese market in its own name, as opposed to the past when Pakistan was exporting Afghanistan’s pine nuts to global markets, including China, in its own name, something that was benefiting traders more than the farmers.
The opening of air cargo corridors is a step forward towards boosting the country’s economy, yet it is not a fundamental solution for Afghanistan’s economic problems, because exports through aerial corridors are very costly. Although the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is now covering a huge portion of the costs, aerial exports will not prove cost-effective for Afghan traders in the long run since it is impossible for USAID to cover the costs for a lifetime. Air corridors are useful for Afghan produce only for marketing purposes, but their efficiency is low due to costliness. The higher the costs of exports, the lower the competitiveness and profits for producers in the market. Therefore, despite the fact that Afghanistan has opened air freight corridors with many countries such as India, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, Afghan farmers have not experienced any tangible improvement in their living conditions.
The government should seek fundamental and affordable solutions to the problems and challenges facing trade and the overall business environment in the country. In spite of opening of air corridors with some countries, Afghanistan’s production industry, especially agriculture products, are still faced with problems in terms of market. Many agricultural products have no access to foreign markets, and are therefore sold only in domestic markets, thereby inflicting heavy losses on Afghan farmers and gardeners annually. This year, too, Pakistan hiked tariffs on Afghan fruits, causing heavy financial losses to farmers. Right now, farmers in the country’s central provinces, especially in Wardak, don’t know where to sell their apple harvests. The apple orchards in the province have produced tens of thousands of tons of apples but Pakistan, considered as Afghanistan’s main export route, has imposed new laws and conditions that will bring no yield to the farmers if their apples are exported through Pakistan.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.