Traders upset as containers fail Customs clearance

March 26,2019

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KARACHI: Around 2,000 containers of edible products are stuck up at the ports causing congestion and losses to the importers since February 19, 2019, when a government decision made it mandatory for food products to have Halal certification and labelling in Urdu.

The government issued SRO No 237(I)/2019 in February, making it mandatory for food products to have Halal certification and labelling in Urdu.

Anjum Nisar, former president, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), said containers were piling at the ports causing congestion, while several importers were reluctant to file the goods declaration (GD) for clearance.

“As soon as the importers file GD for import clearance, they are served show cause notices for not meeting the requirements as prescribed by SRO No 237(I)/2019. Imtiaz supermarket has been served one such notice,” Nisar informed.

Nisar said the decision was taken without taking the stakeholders onboard and even without giving them reasonable time to make arrangements necessary for meeting the new requirements.

Nasir Arain, an office bearers of FMCG Importers Association, said thousands of containers were stuck up, which include import consignments of mega marts including Imtiaz, Naheed etc.

“Edible products are imported from across the world and it is not easy to get the labelling in Urdu and Halal certification in such a limited time.”

Importers of edible products were suffering losses, while there was a shortage of imported edible products in the market, he added.

A Customs official said the import clearance of edible products was at a halt.

However, he added, that smuggling of such goods had increased manifold.

“Regrettably, it seems that the situation is much more serious than originally thought, since the new measure will not be applied to cargoes that were in transit before

February 19, but for all others, the regulation is of immediate application and the Minister of Commerce remains firm in not granting a transitional period,” an importer said.

In addition, it has been specified that it would be necessary to make an information label in Urdu, specific for Pakistan (a sticker would not be acceptable) and that it should include the Halal seal.

“Additionally, Halal Regulation, which is still to be defined, seems to be intended to apply also to products of plant origin," the importer added.

Pakistan’s credibility was at stake for cancelling confirmed orders with international suppliers. Many containers were ready with the suppliers since weeks, but could not be shipped due to clearance issues at Customs.

Nisar said Adviser on Commerce had committed that an extension in the implementation of the said requirements would be notified, however no such notification was issued.


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