LAHORE - Indian authorities continued to discourage the entry of finished goods from Pakistan, as on average only one truck of Pakistani cement can cross Wagah border during the whole day while Indian Customs officials fully facilitate trucks carrying raw material, including gypsum.

Industry sources said that around 50 gypsum trucks enter India from Pakistan’s side of the border daily, as no extra security checks apply to the import of this raw material from Pakistan. There is a huge demand of Pakistani cement in India and Pakistan has the capacity to export around 7 million ton of cement. They said that country exported 786,672 ton cement to India during 2007-08, 634,456 ton in 2008-09, 722,967 ton in 2009-10, 320,230 ton in 2010-11, and 605,435 ton in 2011-12.

They said that only two interchanges established at Wagah-Attari border for crossing of railway wagons, which are working as non-tariff barrier against import from Pakistan, causing congestion of wagons at the Wagah border restricting further loading of cement at T-10.

Both Pakistani and Indian Railways had assigned limited number of railway wagons for transportation of cement, which is also hampering cement trade between the two countries, exposing the interests of Indian government to discourage the entry of finished goods from Pakistan.

Experts said that Pakistan’s Customs officials should discourage gypsum exports from Pakistan so that India could automatically create space to increase cement imports from Pakistan with pressure from their importers and to fulfil domestic needs.

He mentioned that the trucks loaded with gypsum cost almost $50 to Indians, inclusive of all costs of transportation, handling and Customs clearance.

According to experts, Indian Punjab’s cement manufacturing units have also started, which is the main reason for the reduction in Pakistani cement imports. However, it is admitted that Pakistani cement is much better in quality as compared to Indian.

They said that technically, only one truck moves in whole day to transport cement to India from Pakistan.

They said that every cement truck moving towards India takes at least four hours due to multiple checks imposed by the Indian Customs and border security force officials and the same amount of time is spent when trucks return back. They added that even though the border opening hours have been increased to 10 hours from eight hours a day, real time trading occurs for eight hours only.

They said that discouraging the entry of cement trucks from the Wagah-Attari border to India by limiting them to five to six trucks as compared to 50-60 trucks of gypsum is an NTB for Pakistani cement. They said that the truck charges Rs20-25 per bag to shift cement from Attari to Amritsar as compared to Rs5 per bag to transport any raw material from the border to Amritsar.