By admin       2018-02-02

The government has refused entry to 180 trucks loaded with imported raw cotton at Torkham border from Afghanistan and Central Asian States (CAS) on the plea that import of cotton is allowed in containers and only through Karachi Port, well informed sources told Business Recorder. The Department of Plant Protection (DPP), an arm of Ministry of National Food Security and Research has also pleaded that raw cotton loaded in the trucks is American cotton, import of which is not allowed through the Afghan border. However, All Pakistan Textile Manufacturers Association (APTMA) is of the view that under the rules American cotton has been defined as 2(b) ie all cotton produced in part of western hemisphere (North, South and Central America and adjoining Islands). Pakistan has been importing raw cotton from Afghanistan and CAS for quite some time through the border at Torkham. There was no bar on these trucks which were coming into Pakistan after paying duty and completing customs formalities the data from the customs website detailing the imports reveals. In letters to Ministry of Commerce and Textile and Ministry of National Food Security and Research, APTMA has stated that it received information that over 180 trucks have been stopped at the border by the Plant Protection Department (which did not have office at Torkham earlier). The Plant Protection Department has stated that cotton is only to be imported through Karachi and in containers. According to APTMA, Afghanistan and CAS are land locked countries and as such their cotton cannot be routed through Karachi. The cotton is ginned and baled and carries country of origin certificate as well as a phytosanitary certificate from the country of origin. In 2017, the total cotton production of Afghanistan was 60,000 bales of 480 pounds each and that of Tajikistan about 400,000 bales of 480 pounds each. Out of this approximately 300,000 bales are usually imported by Pakistan. The Import Policy Order (IPO) 2016 states that the terms of the border trade agreement will apply in such cases. The border trade agreement with Afghanistan states that the phytosanitary requirements as notified by FAO will apply. The FAO notified requirements do not limit import at only Karachi although they do require an import permit to be obtained. The Association has pleaded neither the requirement of Torkham border is applied in this case nor any such notice was given of its application. At Torkham the plant protection does not have any office or facility. APTMA has requested that the terms and conditions for import from Afghanistan and CAS may be amended to allow traditional trade with these countries to continue for this season at least. The Association has pleaded that it is not possible to route this cotton via Karachi and plant protection will have to develop facilities and procedures at Torkham which will require time. The Association further stated that the matter is not only of a commercial nature but could also have serious consequences on our foreign relations as the Afghans have blocked our exports to CAS and Afghanistan pending resolution of the matter. The government has been requested that current consignments stuck at the border maybe released through an executive order and plant protection department be instructed to allow the trucks passage. When contacted APTMA Advisor, Shahid Sattar said the Association is working with Director General DPP to iron out rules which would be acceptable to all for application from next season. The Association has also claimed that it met with Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research wherein he has directed the Association to appeal to Secretary Commerce for resolution of the matter expeditiously to avoid demurrages.

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