Imports increasing steadily; Rs500m goods smuggled daily through Khyber
PESHAWAR: The current financial year proved to be sluggish for Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan as its exports to the neighbouring country in terms of value fell by 27 percent while its imports increased considerably.
Collector Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) Peshawar, Qurban Ali Khan confirmed here Friday that the fall in bilateral trade, decline in Pakistani exports and a surge in imports from Afghanistan had set alarm bells ringing for the quarters concerned.
He said during the last fiscal (2014-15), about 40,194 trucks of different perishable and non-perishable goods were imported from Afghanistan while the imports during the 11 months (May 31 to July 1) of the current fiscal (2015-16) remained 44,454 trucks.
He said the exports last year were 1,69,605 trucks, but had dropped to 1,38,485 trucks during the 11 months of the current fiscal.
The value of the goods exported to Afghanistan also decreased by 27 percent. In the period July to May 2015, the goods exported to Afghanistan were valued at Rs147.717 billion while exports during the 11 months of the current fiscal stood at Rs115.784 billion.
The data shared by Qurban Ali Khan also revealed that revenue collection in respect of taxes on at least 10 items imported during the last 11 months increased to Rs6.28 billion from Rs4.0 billion collected in 2014-15 fiscal. These items included grapes, tomatoes, apricots, onions, mineral coal, remeltable scrap, scrap auto parts, raw cotton, rerollable scrap, aluminium scrap, etc,
It meant that during the last 11 months, Pakistan imported 11,125 truckloads of mineral coal, 8,665 trucks of grapes, 214 trucks of remeltable scrap, 2,551 trucks of onions, 130 trucks of scrap auto parts, 794 truck of raw cotton, 41 trucks of rerollable scrap, 1,174 trucks of apricots, 5,120 trucks of tomatoes and 14,756 truckloads of other items from Afghanistan.
The exports though both Torkham in Khyber Agency and Kharlachi border posts in Kurram Agency registered a sharp decline during the current fiscal.
The data showed that only the export of fresh fruit of Kino has risen from Rs4.7 billion to Rs5.6 billion during the current financial year through Torkham, while medicines exports through Kharlachi increased from Rs75 million to Rs237 million.
However, the overall medicines export also started falling after the Afghan government blacklisted some Pakistani pharmaceutical companies a few months ago.
One reason for decline in Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan could be the rise of informal trade across the border. One of the traders, who wished not to be named, said Afghan markets are abound with Pakistani products including cloth and readymade garments, livestock, poultry, poplar and other items transported through informal trade mechanism.
An official told The News on condition of anonymity that around Rs500 million Afghan goods are daily smuggled into Pakistan through Khyber Agency. The value of these smuggled goods is $1.8 billion yearly. Most of these items are imported to Afghanistan through the transit trade arrangement.
The traders believe that trade financing facilities are very low between Afghanistan and Pakistan and have become an obstacle for Afghan importers who largely operate informally.
However, Qurban Ali Khan said most of the tariff related issues had been resolved and the exporters have been allowed to open their LCs in local currency.
He added that computerisation of the customs system has been completed and a home-grown automated customs clearance system, Web-Based One Customs (WeBOC), has been put in place to facilitate trade and promote transparency in customs processes.
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