India restores date re-export facility for Pakistan

Updated June 14, 2019

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Around 96pc of the country’s total date exports are India-bound. — PPI/File
Around 96pc of the country’s total date exports are India-bound. — PPI/File

ISLAMABAD: India has allowed the re-export of dried date shipments currently parked at the Attari border check post since February.

The Indian government had raised duty on Pakistani exports by 200 per cent after the Pulwama Attack in February effectively ending the trading activities between the two neighbours.

An official statement issued by the Commerce Division said that shipments have been stuck at the border since Feb 16 after Indian importers refused to clear the goods amid escalating tensions.

Around 96pc of the country’s total date exports are India-bound and the hike in duties adversely affected the local producers who mostly rely on India’s huge market for their sales.

In order to clear the stocks in transit, Secretary Commerce Ahmed Sukhera chaired a meeting with the stakeholders in Karachi and met with the PM’s Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood before Eid holidays to chalk out a plan for clearance of shipments held up at Attari, offloading around 150,000 bags of unsold stocks of dry dates, devising marketing strategy for the upcoming crop in July-August, and long-term plan for market and product diversification.

The division tasked the Pakistan Horticulture Development Export Company (PHDEC) to take lead in the matter.

The Indian Customs Authorities allowed the re-exports after concerted efforts were taken by the PDHEC including litigation by the affected exporters and Indian importers.

For the disposal of the unsold stocks of old crop and marketing for the upcoming season, the PHDEC is organising a delegation of around 10 members of dried dates exporters from Sukkur and Khairpur to visit Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal in July.

Moreover, a detailed long-term strategy for market and product diversification ranging from dried to fresh dates and to minimise dependence on Indian market has also been devised and will be implemented during the coming months, the official announcement added.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019