Traders want amnesty for goods stuck-up in Afghanistan

KARACHI: Goods worth billions of rupees are stuck-up in Afghanistan. These goods are imported under Afghan Transit Trade and then the same are smuggled back into Pakistan.

Pakistan government closed the borders with neighboring country in the pretext of COVID-19 as well as a part of anti-smuggling drive. Due to these developments, high value goods including chemicals, tyres, cloth, electronics, etc cannot find their way back into Pakistan.

Moreover, the authorities started 100 percent scanning of all Afghan transit trade goods to avoid mis-declaration. Earlier, around 300 containers under Afghan transit trade were cleared every day, but now due to 100 percent scanning this number is reduced to around 120 containers per day.

The closing of borders as well as scanning of containers has caused unrest among traders/smugglers. Smugglers and traders are pressurizing the authorities to open the borders so that these goods could be cleared and imported back in Pakistan.  KPK and Baluchistan Chambers are demanding for amnesty scheme to import these goods back into Pakistan. Federal government has not responded as yet.

Moreover, Collector Peshawar Muhammad Saleem and Collector Quetta Waheed Marwat were approached seeking discounts and lower values so that these goods could be cleared. The traders/smugglers are asking for a concessionary valuation ruling.

However, both the collectors have refused, and importers are told that clearance of goods would only be conducted under import policy and all duty and taxes as per usual would be collected. There would be no concessionary valuation ruling.

Pakistan Customs is observing a rigorous anti-smuggling campaign across the country spearheaded by MCC Quetta and MCC Preventive Karachi.

MCC Preventive Karachi has devised a strategy to conduct raids during night time to avoid any law and order situation. An official said the market associations and warehouses’ owners accommodating smuggled goods created law and order situation whenever raids were conducted.

The official maintained that Customs was not wasting any time and raids were being conducted as soon as the information regarding presence of smuggled goods was received. If the time was wasted the goods were removed from the warehouses and dumping grounds.

Besides, companies have been identified particularly food products, spices and recipes manufacturers using smuggled chemicals.

It may be mentioned here Afghan Consulate, parliamentarians of KPK and Baluchistan had resisted scanning of transit trade consignments, while two senior reputed officers were transferred on the complaints of these mafias.

The Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) is also being revised and a quota as per the requirements of Afghanistan would be fixed for Afghan imports.

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