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India’s refusal to allow Afghan fruits via Wagah irks ACCI

“Last year, Afghan traders exported over 10,000 tons of apples to India, but this year even just a kg of apples cannot be exported,” says Alkozai

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) slamming India’s refusal to allow Afghan products via Wagah port, called on the government of Afghanistan to take up the issue with India as soon as possible to address the concerns of Afghan exporters.

Deputy of ACCI, Khanjan Alkozai, said that for the last three months apples and walnuts couldn’t be exported to India through Pakistan’s Wagah port following refusal by India for Afghan exports via this route.

Talking to newsmen on Sunday, he said that India wants that consignments of Afghan apple and walnut will only be allowed to reach Indian markets through Chahbahar and Nhava Sheva port, however, this is a longest route to take, and is not cost effective for Afghan traders.  He said that Nhava Sheva port is 4,000km away from Afghanistan whereas the distance from Kabul to Wagah is 12,00km. “If our traders take this longest route, it will not only add to the cost of shipments but fruits will rot,” he said.

Alkozai alleged that Iranian traders’ lobby was behind it as it pushed India to reject entry of Afghan fruits via Wahgah port because Iranian apples cannot compete with Afghan apple and they want our fruits diminished in Indian markets.

“India has been a big market for Afghan apple. Last year our traders exported over 10,000 tons of apples to India, but this year just one kg of apples couldn’t be exported”, he said.

Alkozai said that under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement India slashed custom taxes from 480 exported goods including dry fruit, however, the agreement has not been fully implemented.

“If Afghan traders export their goods with the names of Indian traders, they will benefit from tax exemption, otherwise not,” he said.

“Those Afghan exporters who dispatched their consignments with under the names of Indian traders to benefit from tax exemption, faced millions dollars losses as they came across a number of challenges in recovering their money,” he said.

He lamented that despite bringing the issue into the notice of the government of Afghanistan and the government of India there has no action. He called on the government to address the issue as soon as possible. He also talked about barriers created by Pakistan, which caused 70 percent decrease in transit and 60 percent in recent years. Alkozai called on the government to support domestic resources including agriculture, natural resources.

Haji Farid, one of the traders, slammed inefficiency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) and its commercial branches abroad. He said the government of Afghanistan allowed grapes from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to reach Pakistan via Afghanistan, but Afghan grapes couldn’t be exported via Pakistan and rotted in tons.

He demanded of the ministry to address traders’ problems and provide them necessary facilities.

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