Pakistan deals a new blow to Afghan fruit exporters
KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): Pakistani authorities demand 300,000 Pakistani rupees per truck loaded with fresh fruits to cross the recently reopened Spin Boldak-Chaman border crossing between the two countries, dealing a new blow to Afghan traders.
Pakistan kept the Friendship Gate closed for 14 days in a row, blocking all types of imports and exports between the two neighbours. Afghan traders claim they incurred millions of afghanis losses each day during the 14-day closure of the border.
The border crossing was reopened on Thursday after a series of meetings and talks between officials of the two countries.
But a new problem has emerged --- the Rs300000 guarantee per truck.
Kandahar fresh fruits traders union head Haji Nanai Agha told Pajhwok Afghan News that the export of grapes and melons to Pakistan resumed with the border reopening but stopped again the same day after Pakistani customs officials sought Rs300,000 per truck in guarantee.
Agha said he discussed the matter with Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials in Kandahar and the trader representatives had taken up the issue with the Pakistani consul general in Kandahar.
He said the Pakistani diplomat had been told that if the trucks were not allowed to proceed, the fresh fruits could decay and Afghan traders had already suffered millions of afghanis losses due to the border closure.
“After the border’s reopening, we have sent 700 tonnes of grapes and melons to Pakistan since yesterday, but today the exports were brought to a halt. Transport companies are in talks with Pakistani officials on the matter to seek a solution.”
He said the Afghan fruits were being sent to Pakistan by Pakistani transport companies and the problem was between them and the companies should pay the guarantee amount.
He said the new problem were affecting Afghan fresh fruits traders and hoped it would be resolved soon.
He said traders wanted the issue to be resolved soon in order to avoid further losses and the guarantee law should be held in abeyance until the fruit harvest season came to an end in Afghanistan.
Agha said a month was left in concluding the grapes harvest season and no export of the fruit took place for almost half a month due to the border closure.
ACCI head for Kandahar Haji Nasrullah Zaheer also told Pajhwok Afghan News the 14-day border closure caused heavy financial losses to orchard owners and traders and they could suffer further losses if the new issue was not resolved.
He said though the guarantee amount problem was between Pakistani officials and Pakistani transport companies, but Afghan traders were bearing the brunt.
He said the new issue had been discussed with the Pakistani consulate, the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad and the Afghan foreign, finance and commerce ministries.
He said the Pakistani authorities had been requested to defer the guarantee issue for a month in order the harvest season comes to an end in Afghanistan.
He said transport companies could not arrange the guarantee money per truck in such a short span of time because up to 30 trucks loaded with fruits daily crossed into Pakistan from Kandahar province.
Zaheer said talks in this regard were underway with Pakistani officials on Monday and the fruit exports to Pakistan had stopped pending outcome of the talks.
He said they were optimistic Pakistan would delay implementation of the guarantee law and would allow the trucks to enter that country.
The border crossing was closed by Pakistan after some Afghan protestors allegedly set afire a Pakistani flag near the border.
Figures from the Kandahar commerce department and other sources show Afghan traders and people suffered 12 million afghanis per day during the 14-day blockade.
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