The bilateral trade volume between Bangladesh and Afghanistan is not very large, but industry people think there is every opportunity to enhance it.
Bangladesh's trade with Afghanistan, which hit a setback amid the latter's changing situation following the Taliban takeover, will return to its previous position and might even exceed it when the country reaches stability in the long term, they believe.
In FY21, Bangladesh exported $8.64 million worth of goods with a 50% growth to the war-torn country, but no data on imports during the time was available on the central bank's website.
However, a reliable source at the Bangladesh Bank said Bangladesh's imports from the country in the last fiscal year amounted to more than $20 million. In FY20, the bilateral trade with the country stood at $15.04 million and Bangladesh imported slightly higher than it exported.
Pharmaceutical products account for 88% of the country's exports to Afghanistan. Md Shafiuzzaman, secretary general of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries, told The Business Standard that they might face problems in exporting drugs to Afghanistan because of the present unstable situation. But after that everything will be fine.
He thinks that exports of medicines to the country will likely increase in the future.
Some 20 to 25 Bangladeshi companies export medicines to the country. Currently, Bangladesh's medicines go to 151 countries.
Dr Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, told TBS that there is scope for expansion of Bangladesh's trade with Afghanistan. The current situation is different. There will be some uncertainty about import-export activities.
However, he believes that if the situation calms down, trade will start again.
Dr Ahsan H Mansur, executive director at the Policy Research Institute, said, in the present situation, imports from both countries will be somewhat hampered. If nothing goes wrong, Bangladesh's export to the country's market can grow further.
In the last fiscal year, Afghanistan became the 74th largest export destination among 201 countries and territories. Even Bangladesh's exports to the war-torn country in FY21 were higher than Bhutan and the Maldives in South Asia, according to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
The country exported $6.89 million to Bhutan and $6.02 million to the Maldives in FY21.
Bangladesh mostly exported pharmaceutical products to Afghanistan worth $7.63 million.
India remained Bangladesh's biggest exporting partner in South Asia as the country exported $1.28 billion worth of goods in FY21 to India, a 16.7% rise from the previous fiscal year. It was followed by Pakistan ($82.71 million), Nepal ($68.66 million) and Sri Lanka ($47.32 million).
Meanwhile, Bangladesh imported $9.27 million from Afghanistan in FY20.
Most of Bangladesh's imports from Afghanistan are vegetable items. Of the $9.27 billion in imports from the country in FY20, only vegetables accounted for $8.8 million.
Besides, the list of products imported from the country includes textile items, plastics and rubber, chemical products, minerals, etc.