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Pakistan increases custom tariff on Afghan fruits exports

By Akhtar M.Nikzad-KABU: Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said that Pakistan has increased custom tariff on export Afghan fruit products. It alleged that the move was aimed at damaging Afghanistan’s fruit products.

This comes at a time that the fruit products have increased by 30 percent as comparing with the past year.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the ACCI, Atiquallah Nusrat, in an interview with Afghanistan Times said that despite numerous challenges before agriculture sector, fruit products have increased by 30 percent this year.

He said that lack of market and the problems created by Pakistan have hindered export of fruits to the international markets. Nusrat added that Afghan fruit products are being exported to markets in India and South Asia through Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan has recently increased tariff on fruit products of Afghanistan three times. “Custom tariff on export of fruit from Afghanistan was Rs2,500 in Pakistan in the past, but the country has now increased it to Rs7,500,” he said, adding that the move was violation of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), which promotes trade and economic growth in the region through reduction of tariff.

The SAFTA is an agreement reached between eight members of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan.

Nusrat said that increase in export tariff on Afghan fruits by Pakistan will damage economic growth of the country.

“Afghan markets are full of fruits and we are concerned that high temperature will spoil them,” he asserted.

He said that Afghan traders are hopeful that access to Indian and South Asian markets through Chabahar port in Iran will work as an alternative to Pakistan’s Gwadar port.

Stressing on economic importance of Chabahar port, Nusrat urged both Iran and India to accelerate work on the port.

Head of fresh fruit exporters union, Nejabat Haidari, said that Afghan traders and farmers have suffered huge losses in the past 20 days. The traders have halted export of fruits to Pakistan recently. Previously they were exporting 300 tons of fruits to the country on daily basis, he said.

Haidari said that concerned authorities have turned their blind eye to the issue. He urged the government to spare no efforts in resolving the challenges faced by Afghan traders and farmers. He warned that they will stage protest demonstration if their demands were not met.

The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Assadullah Zamir, said that they don’t have any national or international market for fruits. He said that the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) is working to find international markets for Afghan fruits.

Indian ambassador to Kabul, Amar Sinha, told Afghanistan Times that Chabahar port is a very good option for expansion of trade relations between South Asia and Central Asia. “Efforts are underway to develop the port. However, we are facing some problems which will be resolved soon,” he said.

Musafer Qoqandi, spokesman for the MoCI, Pakistan has violated Afghanistan, Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA) by increasing the custom tariff on export of fruits from Afghanistan, without informing Kabul about their decision.

“We sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take necessary measure to solve the problem. Now, our attaché is talking with Pakistani officials and we hope that the negotiation will result in a fruitful result,” he said.

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