Of Kinnow exports
Published: January 27, 2012

How difficult is it to sell an orange to Iran, a country that is literally across the border from Pakistan? Well, given the current international pressure mounting against Iran over its purported nuclear ambitions; it appears selling oranges to Iran is not just difficult; its downright impossible.

Trade routes between Pakistan and Iran have remained disturbed in recent weeks after border tensions led to a temporary closure of border-crossing points.

However, it appears that even significant access to Irans market may not attract local Kinnow exporters there, at least for now.

"Last year, one US dollar cost about 930 Irani Toman, this year the same greenback costs about 2,200 Iranian Toman.

The value of their currency is falling so quickly that it is very difficult to execute any deals with them," asserts leading fruit exporter Waheed Ahmed.

Given that countrys proximity to Pakistan, local fruit exporters had hoped to capitalise on rising demand for the exclusive local citrus produce in Iran.

And the lack of this lucrative avenue is telling in the Kinnow exports achieved so far in the season.

Since the start of Kinnow harvest in November so far fruit exporters estimate that exports have tallied at about 100,000 tons.

"At this pace, we are very unlikely to export 300,000 tons of Kinnows by March," laments Ahmed.

The sudden turn of events for the worst in Iran is not the only worry for Kinnow exporters.

The sector has been eyeing negotiations between the Federal Government and its counterparts in Indonesia over a Preferential Trade Agreement in hopes of re-entering that market with a bang.

Although Pakistani exporters had found a lucrative market in that country, a Free Trade Agreement between Indonesia and China has left Pakistani fruit exporters uncompetitive there.

Although government has repeatedly extolled plans to sign a PTA with Indonesia, the said deal is yet to be inked.

Federal Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim is expected in Jakarta soon for this purpose.

For fruit exporters and growers, the promise of a broader market lies in the balance.