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Afghanistan’s Torkham Port Gears up Trade With China

Standing by a dozen containers at the Torkham land port of eastern Afghanistan and waiting to receive his goods imported from China, Afghan businessman Parwiz Khan said his business with Chinese partners had changed his living conditions.

“Since I began my business 12 years ago, my living conditions have changed, as today I have a car, a house, and life is going on smoothly,” Khan told Xinhua.

Torkham in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, which connects neighboring Pakistan onward to China, has been regarded as a major border crossing, linking South Asia and Central Asia via the war-torn Afghanistan.

Importing cosmetics from China, Khan said Chinese products are popular among Afghans due to their reasonable pricing, adding that he and other Afghan traders import their goods from China through the Pakistani port of Karachi, and it took about three months to deliver the goods.

It costs 200,000 to 250,000 afghanis (2,300 to 2,900 U.S. dollars) to transport one container from China to Torkham of Afghanistan, Khan noted.

The Torkham crossing point is always hustle and bustle, as hundreds of thousands of people are busy with their businesses every day, buying and selling a variety of items to earn a livelihood for their families.

“It takes 20 to 25 days to transport 25 tons or 27 tons of goods from the border town of Hairatan to Pakistan’s Peshawar,” truck driver Ostan said.

Each day 400 or 450 containers are cleared in the border town of Torkham towards Pakistan and almost the same number comes to Afghanistan, commissioner of the border town of Torkham Mufti Esmatullah said.

“The majority of them are goods from China,” he added.

Afghanistan’s exports to China include pine nuts, almonds and walnut, the official said.

However, he admitted that telegraphic transfer (TT) has remained an obstacle in business between Afghan traders and their Chinese partners, as Afghans cannot transfer money due to restrictions imposed by the United States on the Afghan banking system.

“Our request is to cooperate with Afghan traders and exempt trade from politics,” Esmatullah told Xinhua.

Nevertheless, the official noted that Afghan authorities have been working to keep the Torkham crossing point open around the clock and reduce tariffs as part of the efforts to expand business activities.

“The Torkham port as a pivotal point is important for Afghanistan as traders’ goods including those from China enter the country,” said Qurishi Badlon, public relations officer of Nangarhar province.

“Via the Torkham port, we have established good trade relations with China, and therefore we attach more importance to it,” he added.