KARACHI - Pakistan is losing substantial revenues on the exports of fruits and vegetables to Iran as almost $40 million worth of fruits are being smuggled into the neighboring country. The illegal trade, which is being made in violation of the protocol signed by Pakistan and Iran, has also drastically reduced the legal trade of fruits with Tehran.
According to sources, besides huge losses for Pakistan in terms of various duties, Iran has also serious concerns over the export of unhygienic fruits through land routes. A group of All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA), has also raised the smuggling issue in a recently held meeting with Federal Secretary Commerce Zafar Mehmood, and Chief Executive TDAP Tariq Puri, in Karachi as the illegal trade was not only affecting the overall exports to the neighboring country but also causing huge losses for the government and exporters. Secretary commerce, sources said, has announced a special meeting of concerned authorities on August 26th, to address the issue.
Official sources in PFVA claimed that due to unchecked trade via land routes with Tehran, the export of Kinnow has declined from 2000 containers to only 200 containers during the last few years as illegal trade has increased manifold. The country was earlier exporting about 60,000 tonnes of kinnow annually to Iran alone which was between 30 to 40 per cent of its total global kinnow trade. Besides, Iranian government has also been expressed its concern that stale fruits were being supplied to its markets via land route of Balochistan. They wanted Pakistan to transport sensitive commodities in refrigeration trucks to maintain their required temperature. Transportation of fresh commodities is often made to Iran in open trucks and does not meet the phyto-sanitary requirements. This has lead to the neighboring country rejecting export goods several times and a request was sent to the Pakistani government to follow global standards.
Pakistani commercial counsular in Iran made efforts to make the government privy of the issue which has potential to damage the country's fresh fruit trade with the neighbouring state, sources said. They said in the current circumstances exporters were apprehensive about the future of their exports as the neighboring country was regarded as a valuable market in terms of prompt payment for the imported fruits. Relegation of Pakistani fruits would serve as a severe blow to them. Talking to Pakistan Today former Chairman PFVA said that though the association has no objection over the export of fruits through land routes but it should be through proper procedures meeting all phyto-sanitary requirements. The poor standard of kinnow and mango exported to Iran through land route in open trucks, he claimed was in violation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Pakistan and Iran in 2006.