Karachi: The salt export industry in Pakistan is teetering on the brink of collapse, casting a daunting shadow over businesses, particularly within the salt sector. The Salt Manufacturers Association of Pakistan (SMAP) urgently calls for immediate government action to avert an impending disaster that could have far-reaching consequences for the industry.

Acting Chairman of SMAP, Qasim Yaqoob Paracha, addressed the critical situation, expressing, “Our salt exporters are navigating through an unprecedented crisis.” Disruptions in the Red Sea have compelled significant rerouting of vessels, resulting in an alarming surge in shipping costs, imposing an overwhelming burden on businesses. The economic impact is dire, jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands and the stability of the salt export sector.

Paracha emphasized the urgent need for a comprehensive government response to address the multifaceted challenges faced by salt exporters. “Stabilizing Freight Costs” is of utmost importance, with Paracha urgently calling for immediate action to regulate and stabilize freight charges. Proposed solutions include temporary subsidies, negotiated shipping rates, or alternative routes to ensure the sustainable operation of exporters.

In addition to stabilizing costs, Paracha called for the implementation of “Targeted Incentives” for salt exporters. Measures such as freight rebates or temporary tax relief were proposed to bridge the cost gap and stimulate export growth, safeguarding the industry and the jobs it sustains.

Highlighting the role of the state-owned Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), Paracha stated, “Our National Shipping lines play a significant role in this crisis by adding more ships to their fleet and temporarily operating in this route. Importantly, it is noteworthy that Houthi militants do not target Muslim vessels. Furthermore, the government is actively negotiating with shipping companies outside the crosshairs of Houthi militants, such as those from China, Russia, or other Muslim countries.”

He urged the corporation to offer competitive rates, dedicated shipping routes, and prioritize Pakistani cargo, symbolizing national self-reliance and supporting the revival of exports. Moreover, Paracha emphasized that the positive outcomes of government intervention extend beyond the salt export industry. A stabilized shipping environment not only safeguards the economic backbone of our nation but also benefits other Pakistani exporters, contributing significantly to the country’s foreign exchange reserves and the overall economic health and sustainability of various sectors.

In light of the current global challenges, the SMAP statement concluded with a heartfelt plea for swift government action, recognizing the broader impact on livelihoods, the economy, and Pakistan’s resilience. Paracha called upon the Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, and other relevant authorities to grasp the gravity of the situation and act promptly. The future of the salt export industry is at stake, and decisive action is imperative for its survival.