MoC finally takes up issue of fruits with Iran

Published: July 13th, 2012.
Though Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has finally taken up the issue of ban on imports of fruits from Pakistan with Iran recently, the export of Pakistani fruits especially mango to Tehran remained suspended. Despite that the issue was taken up in the meeting of Pakistan-Iran Joint Economic Committee held last month and at diplomatic level, Tehran has not yet responded as to why the ban has been imposed.

In a letter sent to All Pakistan Fruits and Vegetables Exporters Association (PFVA) on June 28, Ministry of Commerce said it was requested by the PFVA to take up the issue with Government of Iran so that import of fruits may be allowed.

"The commercial section in Tehran informed this Ministry that Iranian Government had imposed the ban on import/release of fruits except bananas, on the recommendation of CC Tehran. Iranian Embassy in Islamabad was also requested through Foreign Office for timely resolution of the issue.

MoC has also taken up the issue with Iranian Government through diplomatic channel in response to a letter addressed to Minister for Commerce by Crystal Trading Company. But no response has been received yet. It may also be mentioned that during the 1st meeting of Co-ordination Committee, constituted in pursuance of the decisions of 18th session of Pak-Iran JEC held on June 11, 2012 in Tehran, Pakistani side also raised the issue of ban on import of fruits from Pakistan. Iranian side informed that the Joint Working Group will look into the matter," it said.

Referring to the hurdles faced by Pakistani exporters who have lost a lucrative market of the neighbouring country, Iran, as a result of trade embargo imposed by the United Nations and United States of America on Tehran, MoC has also informed the fruit exporters that as far as the issue of LCs is concerned, an Inter-ministerial meeting in the ministry was convened. The issues of E-form and LCs were also taken up with representative from State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), who informed that UBL, Soneri, Askari, KASB, ABL, MCB, HBL were accepting LCs for exports to Iran.

Ministry of Commerce has been actively pursuing the issue of ban imposed by Iranian government on import of fruits from Pakistan and has taken up the matter with relevant Iranian authorities, the letter added.

The ministry had taken the initiative after taking notice of news items appeared in a section of press that "Pakistani exporters of fruit have lost a lucrative market for mangoes and kinnow this year. At least $10 million worth export of mango has been lost during this season.

As the commercial banks in the country are reluctant to issue E Form to exporters, owing to, what they claim, UN Security Council's sanctions on the neighbouring country, no formal export of mango to Tehran was registered so far this year .Mango exports has already been reduced by 15 percent as only 40,000 tones of the fruit have been sent abroad."

However, According to Waheed Ahmed, Co-Chairman PFVA, none of commercial bank was ready to accept LCs for export to Iran despite the SBP's claims and steps taken by MoC so far. If the issue of export of Mangoes to Iran is not addressed and resolved promptly, export of Kinnow worth $ 20 million to Tehran could again be lost during next season. Earlier, Pakistan was sending 2000 and 200 containers by sea and road, respectively.

He believes that at least trade of agricultural products specially fruits and vegetable should remain unaffected by any kind of restriction/ban across the glob.

Earlier, PFVA, in letter sent to MoC on June 19, 2012, has informed that "though we have already received a letter from the SBP clarifying categorically that there was no restriction from them to export Mango and other fruits to Iran but despite that directive by the SBP, the Commercial banks of Pakistan are neither issuing E-form nor accepting LC for export to Iran. Currently only import of banana is being allowed by the Government of Iran while there is ban on import of other fruits like Mango and Kinnow etc. which would otherwise have generated huge foreign exchange for our beloved country enabling the worsening economy to sustain on its feet. This is an important issue which should be taken up with the government of Iran so that import of other fruits besides banana may be allowed."