LAHORE: The Afghan government imposed an exorbitant rate of customs duty on kinno imports from Nov 27, sending a shock wave among mandarin exporters as well as local farmers.
Exporters claim that Kabul has begun charging Rs2.9 million per 35-tonne container customs duty, a 43.5 per cent increase over last year’s rate, coinciding with the beginning of the fruit harvesting season.
“The customs duty increase will not only affect the kinno export but will also hurt the local farmers as the fruit rate in the local market will drop significantly because of a likely cut in its exports,” Sargodha Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Sajid Hussain Tarar told Dawn on Thursday.
Sargodha and its adjoining districts are prominent in the production of supreme-quality citrus fruit.
Exporters, growers fear local prices may crash
Mr Tarar says that Afghanistan is a big market for Pakistani kinno but the Kabul government is repeatedly taking steps against imports of the citrus fruit as it has increased the duty from Rs2.02m to Rs2.9m immediately, while last year it had pushed the tax from Rs0.53m to Rs2.02m.
Perturbed by the recent hike in customs duty, he says that he has written a letter to the federal government and the commerce minister to take up the issue with the Kabul government for ‘rationalising’ the tax and providing relief to the exporters.
Otherwise, he cautions, it will be impossible to achieve the export target as the Afghan market consumes almost half of the total Pakistani kinno exports.
He recalls that Kabul had enhanced the tax rate last year too but reduced it by 60pc on Islamabad’s intervention.
Former SCCI president Shoaib Ahmad Basra fears that if the customs duty issue is not resolved, the rate of kinno in the local market will come down even below Rs1,000 per 40kg while it had been on an average over Rs2,000 per 40kg last year.
“This will devastate the kinno orchard owners, who have been hoping for a good reward this year despite whitefly attacks in parts of the kinno zone,” he adds.
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2023