Fruit exports to Pakistan from Kandahar cut in half
Exporters claim incurring huge losses as a result of the increase in import duty that comes at a time when the harvest season of grapes, melons, watermelons and other fruits has peaked.
In Afghanistan’s current circumstances, Pakistan is considered the only market for these fruits.
The Fresh Fruit Traders Union head in Kandahar, Haji Nani Agha, told Pajhwok Afghan News Pakistan had increased tax on fruits from Kandahar and as a result, traders suffered huge losses and they had extensively reduced exports to the neighbouring country.
He said previously Pakistan would charge 25000 afghanis per 10 tonnes of fruits, but the tax had been increased to 75,000 afghanis, which the Afghan traders could not afford to pay.
He said the tax had been increased at a time when grapes, melons, watermelons and other fruits in Kandahar were being harvested and Afghan traders had no alternate route and market to shun exporting their goods to Pakistan.
He said many traders had stopped exporting fruits to Pakistan and were selling the harvests inside Afghanistan at low rates.
He said daily 20 trucks loaded with fresh fruits entered Pakistan from Afghanistan compared to 40 trucks before the increase in tax.
He said the trucks carrying fruits to Pakistan belonged to Afghan traders who had signed contracts with Pakistani dealers and had received money and therefore they had no option but to export fruits.
The trader said Pakistan always increased taxes and blocked roads against Afghan trucks at peak seasons in order to weaken Afghanistan’s economy.
He urged the government to find an alternate market for Afghanistan fruits because Pakistan could not be a reliable market.
He said it would be better option if the Afghan government paved the way for exports through Chabahar port in southeast Iran and through Tajikistan.
Another trader, Haji Aziz, said the Pakistani Consulate in Kandahar had assured Afghan traders that there would be no problem in export of fruits to Pakistan this season, but the country increased import duty as soon as the harvest season arrived.
He said Afghan traders used to sign contracts with Pakistani traders ahead of the harvest season and receive money from them in advance.
He said the Afghan traders had no option but to export fruits in compliance with the contracts. He said they could have avoided losses had Pakistan increased import duty before the contracts were signed.
Due to the increased tax, grape orchard owners had no option but to sell their harvests inside Afghanistan or process the grapes into raisins.
Haji Aziz also urged the government to find an alternate transit route and arrange cargo planes for Afghan traders to export their goods to foreign countries.
Currently, 60 to 70 cents were charged on each kilogram of fruits carried in cargo planes abroad but if the government reduced the rent by a half and encouraged private airlines, it would enable traders to export their goods even to the Europe and the United States, the trader said.
Kandahar Chamber of Commerce deputy head Eng. Abdul Baqi Bena confirmed Pakistan had increased import duty on Afghanistan fruits, saying the exports had declined by a 40 percent.
He said they had contracted the Pakistani Consulate in Kandahar and Joint Afghanistan and Pakistan Chamber of Commerce officials in Kabul, but there had been no positive result so far.
He said it would have no benefit even if the issue was resolved because the harvest season would end until practical steps were taken.
He said the increase in tax had prompted many Afghan traders stop export of fruits to Pakistan and suspend contracts with Pakistani traders in this regard.
The trader representative acknowledged Pakistan always created problems for Afghan traders during peak seasons and as a result, they incurred losses each year.
He said the government should protect Afghan traders from cruel Pakistani tactics and should find alternate routes for their exports.
Despite the increase in tax, so far more than 5000 tonnes of grapes had been exported to Pakistan, Bena said.
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