The transit trade impediments on Pakistan soil have disrupted the business activities in Afghanistan, since last July. Despite several meetings between Afghan and Pakistani officials and the promisesthat Pakistan have made, the problem is not resolved yet. The crisis started with the 2010 floods in Pakistan which halted the process of Afghan goods transit through Pakistan. The Afghan traders’ goods held up in Karachi port reached to 6000 containers in December 2010, and it increased to 10,000 containers in March 2011.
The Pakistan Central Board of Revenue (CBR) has ordered that Afghan transit goods should be exclusively shipped by National Logistic Cell (NLC), ending to a low process of shipment, due to lack of sufficient NLC trucks. Afghan traders have already lost around 50 million USD due to the held up. Recent studies indicate the ongoing demurrage and detention charges in Karachi port costs 400,000 USD per day for the Afghan traders.
ACCI leadership and the private sector representatives in their recent visit asked President Karzai for his especial attention to the transit problems in Pakistan. The president promised to find a solution and talked to Mr. Gillani, the Prime Minister of Pakistan in this regard. Prime Minister Gillani ordered to let other companies also ship Afghan cargos beside the NLC.
Following Prime Minister Gillani’s order, the shipment process went smoothly for more than a week, with 370 containers shipped by NLC and Pakistan Railways every day. Considering the new trend, we expected that the Afghan cargos held up at Karachi port shall be released during a month. But once again in recent two weeks the process is slowed down; with 2-3 containers being released every day.
Meanwhile, in Peshawar, they do not let containers under a single invoice, to enter Afghanistan individually. They stop containers till the time when the last part of the goods purchased under a single invoice reaches there.
Pakistan also insists that the Afghan cargos should be shipped to Afghanistan in original containers provided by the suppliers, while based on the contracts the foreign suppliers only would carry the goods to Karachi Port and Afghan traders need to reload them to new containers. There are several other problems.
Therefore, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, asks the Afghan government to negotiate with Pakistan about a permanent solution to this problem.
We also want to advise Afghan traders to suspend their transit trades through Karachi, till the time when all cargos stuck in Karachi port will reach Afghanistan. Because, importing new goods, at a time when thousands of containers are already lined up for months to be released, will only bring new damages to their businesses and will add up to their demurrage charges.