KARACHI: The Special Committee on Agricultural Products passed a resolution for facilitating mango exports to regional countries and beyond.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser presided over the meeting of the special committee at the Parliament House on Monday.
The committee deliberated on the hurdles faced by Pakistani mango exporters, particularly the upward revision in freight charges by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and logistical issues at the Taftan border.
The committee urged the PIA CEO to review the freight charges on mango exports and submit a report. It was informed that Pakistan exported more than 14,000 tons of mango worth Rs400 million to Iran each year.
In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent restrictions on trans-boundary movements, governments of Pakistan and Iran have agreed to open the border for three days a week from 08:00 am to 02:00 pm for vehicles carrying trade goods.
Iranian vehicles have been allowed to enter Pakistan and on their way back carry Pakistani goods to Iran. However, Pakistani trucks are not allowed to enter Iran.
The number of Iranian containers is not only lesser in number but a large number of them carries liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Iran, thus they are unfit to carry mango shipments from Pakistan on their way back.
Owing to the perishable nature of the produce and inordinate delay in permission for trucks to enter Iran through the Taftan border, mango exporters face significant losses and the country also loses foreign exchange.
The committee recommended that the Ministry of Interior should take appropriate and urgent trade-facilitative measures during the Covid-19 pandemic for opening and operating the Taftan border five days a week during the mango season with extended timings for facilitating exports.
Additionally, the committee recommended that Pakistani vehicles carrying mango shipments should be allowed to transport the fruit to Iranian ports or arrangements for a minimum of 100 containers should be made, which could ship mangoes to Iran excluding containers and vehicles carrying LPG.
All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed said exports of mangoes to Iran had been jeopardised due to the opening of Pakistan-Iran border for only three days a week and that too for a limited duration.
Meeting participants, keeping in view the current state of the economy and huge financial losses faced by the agriculture sector, promised all possible support for resolving the problems confronted by the association in the export of mangoes.
During the meeting, all the members unanimously agreed that the number of days per week as well as the duration for each day would be extended for the export of mangoes to Iran and the number of trucks coming from Iran to Pakistan would also be multiplied.
Moreover, the committee instructed the national flag carrier to extend cooperation and support to mango exporters. Ahmed added that by increasing the share of PIA in the export of mangoes, the foreign exchange being paid to foreign carriers in freight charges could be saved and the saved amount would generate revenue for the national carrier.
On the advice of the committee, a meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday between the PFVA mango exporters and a PIA delegation, led by its CEO Arshad Malik.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2020.
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