LAHORE - The newly-inaugurated Wagha route, dedicated for trade only, failed to attract exporters, particularly from Pakistani side, as undue restrictions have been imposed on entrance of more than 40 tons of goods in one vehicle, local manufacturers and exporters complained.

According to them, due to ban on cross border entry of more than 10-wheeler truck, business and trade atmosphere could not be improved as Pakistani exporters, mainly belonging to cement sector, find it unfeasible to do trade through this new route.

Consequently, heavy consignments of over 80 tons, have been stuck up at newly-established Wagha trade rout by authorities, creating hurdles in exports.

They said that government has decided to improve bilateral trade with India but our low tariff regime, relaxed trade policy and unregulated market, where products are not subject to conformity of standards, are already creating panic among local manufacturers.

All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association former chairman Tariq Segal asked the govt to provide them level-playing field, as local cement manufacturers were presently exporting cement to India through trains only. Therefore, only a limited quantity of cement could be exported to India currently. Criticising opening of new trade route between the two countries, he said that it would not be beneficial for exporters as supply of up to 40 tons’ goods in one truck has been allowed through this passage. In the same way, only 10-wheeler trucks have been allowed to enter the border, he added. Cement industry uses up to 22-wheeler trucks for transportation, having capacity of carrying around 80 tons of cement. He said that these restrictions will hinder export severely and real aim of enhancing bilateral trade through opening of new trade route will never be achieved by imposing such limitations.

Cement industry experts say that cement is one major commodity that is abundantly available in Pakistan and can be exported to India through land route. But, unfortunately most of the available transportation for cement has a loading capacity of more than 40 tons. Hence, this restriction will increase the transportation cost for not only cement sector but also for whole local industry.

The idea of granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) to India also evoked resistance from several industrial sectors. Auto industry representatives said that India must also provide transparent access to its market so that Pakistan can compete on a better footing, rather than relying on only on Indian imports.

PAAPAM Chairman Nabeel Hashmi said that Pakistan should build up capacity in customs, valuation, anti dumping law, speedy implementation and the National Tariff Commission (NTC).

He said that we should acquire technology and technical know-how in improving national testing and product standards that would put our country on equal footing with India. He said that Pakistan Standards & Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) is neither knowledgeable nor effective. Any hasty step, without obtaining a fair market access for Pakistani goods will result in disproportionate low growth of Pakistani industry, he added.

Textile manufacturers were of the view that level-playing field for cross border trade by equalising import duties in both countries must to resist flood of Indian textile products in the country, as there is a huge gap of levies structure in India and Pakistan. APTMA Central chairman Mohsin Aziz said that it is quite amazing that yarn and synthetic fibre are put in positive list whereas the Polyester Staple Fibre (PSF), the raw material for synthetics-based textile products, has been placed in the negative list. According to him, government should ensure level-playing field for cross border trade by equalising not only import duties but domestic duties as well.

For example, he said, the duty inclusive taxes on yarn is over 25pc in India as against 10pc duty on synthetic and zero percent duty on cotton yarn in Pakistan. Further, he said, the PSF should also be in the positive list with same duty structure.