KHYBER AGENCY-By imposing extra tax on import of flour from Pakistan, Afghanistan has practically halted flour import from Pakistan, letting the central Asian countries and India to take hold of flour market in Afghanistan.

There has been a visible decrease in export of flour to Afghanistan from Pakistan, exporters remarked.

In Peshawar, Subhan, one of main traders exporting flour to Afghanistan, said that although the business of flour had been suffering for the last four months but it further deteriorated when the government of Pakistan withheld subsidy granted on the export of flour. “Last year, on subsidized rate, we were exporting 100-150 trucks flour daily to Afghanistan which had decreased to 15-20 trucks after holding back of subsidy.”

“The commodity rate in Tajikistan is $360-370 per ton while the flour rate in Pakistan is $390-400 per ton. Besides, the Afghan customs has imposed additional duty of Rs 1 lakh (0.1 million) per vehicle on import of flour from Pakistan. Owing to cheaper rates of the commodity in Afghanistan market, being imported from Tajikestan and other central Asian countries, it is impossible for Pakistani exporters to sell flour to Kabul,” he argued.

It has also been learnt that the Afghan government has signed an agreement for supply of wheat or flour to meet needs of Afghan masses.

President Torkham Custom Clearance Agents Association, Zarqeeb Khan said that Afghan customs imposed extra-duty on import of flour from Pakistan to provide opportunity to importers of flour form central Asian countries and India.

“Previously, when both the countries enjoyed cordial relations, clearance process of a loaded truck on both side of the border took twenty to thirty minutes but after implementation of border and custom restrictions it took hours to clear merchandise goods,” he said. He added that if the situation remained the same, exports to Afghanistan would further suffer as the Kabul was expected to impose additional tax on cement and other export items of Pakistan.

As per official, through Torkham, Pakistan used to export ten lakh (1 million) tons flour to Afghanistan annually that was deceasing day by day, adding that time would come when it will halted completely.

When the ex-president Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Peshawar) Zahid Shinwari was contacted to express his point of view on the matter, he said it was not in favor of the two neighboring countries that political differences affect the business activities. He said after imposition of additional custom duty by Afghanistan, export of plastic materials, juices etc to Afghanistan had also ended. “If the issue was not addressed on time in near future exports of Pakistan to Afghanistan would further suffer,” he added. The trade ministry of Pakistan should take up the matter at international level, he suggested.