KARACHI: Smuggled low-priced Iranian goods provide some relief to consumers amid high rates of local and imported items.
A huge potential for Iranian products – particularly packaged food and confectionery items – exists in Pakistan. However, sanctions on Iran by the United States coupled with lack of banking channels and other trade bottlenecks are the main hurdles in boosting legal trade between Iran and Pakistan.
Stakeholders also appear a bit reluctant about revealing whether the arrival of Iranian goods is via legal or illegal channels.
While counting on some price relief, commodity importer and former president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Haroon Agar said a 25kg pack of Iranian powdered milk carries the price tag of Rs9,000-9,500 per bag as compared to Rs17,000-18,000 of one from the US.
“Confectionery makers are the main buyers of Iranian powdered milk,” he added.
He said Iranian chemicals are cheaper by 15-20 per cent than other foreign brands while dried fruit especially pistachios, almonds and some spices, also cost 15-20pc lower than those from other countries.
“Majority of trade with Iran can be termed as informal as most of the trade is based at the border and on cash. One container is cleared by giving duties while five to 10 containers are cleared without paying any duty and taxes,” Mr Agar said, adding that the government is not getting any revenue through duties and taxes.
He claimed that confectionery items literally rule Balochistan markets. Iranian goods are finding their way into Pakistan via the Taftan border.
Talking to Dawn, Member of the All Pakistan Fast Moving Consumers Goods Association (APFMCGA) Mansub Abrar said Iranian chips, biscuits, cakes and other confectionery items are available at 20-25 per cent less prices compared to locally made or imported items.
However, there is no major price difference between Iranian dates and Pakistani dates. Iranian dates sell at Rs300-350 per kg.
Mr Abrar said Iranian cheese is also arriving in the country which is almost 50pc cheaper than Pakistani-made cheese and other imported varieties.
Senior Vice Chairman of the Chainstore Association of Pakistan (CAP) Asfandyar Farrukh said: “There is duty and taxes savings of 40-60pc in different Iranian products landing in Pakistan depending on the items as no regulatory duty, additional customs duty, sales tax, income tax, etc are paid.”
Central Chairman of the All Pakistan Petroleum Retailers Association (APPRA) Sameer Najmul Hussain said Iranian diesel and petrol have been openly selling on the outskirts of Karachi and in many areas of the city like Metrovelle, Baldia, Hub, etc.
“Iranian petrol and diesel are Rs10-15 per litre cheaper than locally produced fuel. Both these fuels are arriving from Jiwani, Gwadar and other border areas. In both fuels, diesel holds 70pc share while petrol share is 30pc,” he said.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2021