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TRADE

Oct 08 - 14, 2001

Fruit, vegetable exports decline

Fruits and vegetables exports have registered a phenomenal decline due to suspension of cargo service by foreign shipping and airlines after September 11 incident.

This was claimed by chairman Fruits and Vegetable Processors and Exporters Association (FVPEA), Matin Siddiqui.

He told that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been left as exporters only option to send shipments to various foreign destinations but the national carrier lacks enough cargo space to handle a sizeable quantity.

Exports of fruits and vegetables have fallen by 70 per cent to European countries followed by 50 per cent to Far East, 35 per cent to Middle East and Gulf Countries and 40 per cent to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh during September 11 to 28.

"I have informed the EPB on Saturday on this decline in export after confirming from leading exporters of my association," he said. He said exports will further go down due to shortage of space with PIA. "Things may improve a bit if PIA starts special freighter service," he said. So far PIA has not started any freighter service.

Mateen said exporters of perishable items now fear expiry of letters of credit (LCs) due to delay in shipments through PIA. He said some consignments of mango are still to go to Europe while other commodities like onion and apple are ready for shipments. He, however, said that the national carrier has increased the freight rate for mango to Rs72 per kg from Rs67 per kg last week.

Pakistan's exports of fruits during July-August stood at $13.58 million (48,464 tons) as compared to $14 million (14,414 tons) in the same period of 2000. The average unit price (AUP) declined to $0.28 per kg from $0.43 per kg in July-August 2000. In vegetables, Pakistan exported 27,194 tons ($4 million) in July-August 2001 as against 26,323 tons ($4.4 million) in the same period of 2000. The AUP declined by 11 per cent to $0.15 per kg as against $0.17 per kg.

Japan bans bones, products import

Japanese importers of animal bones and its related products have asked the Pakistani exporters to stop export shipments from October 4 following the outbreak of mad cow disease in Japan.

Japanese government has officially announced a ban on import of meat, bone meal and steamed bone meal (including bone grists), horns meal, blood plasma meal, fish meal, bone grain meal from all countries of the world including Pakistan. In fact all these are prohibited for import, sell and produce in Japan on and after October 4 till the mad cow disease problem is settled. These items are basically used in the production of fertilizer.

Exports loss to be offset by support

The present decline in exports and revenues will be offset by budgetary support being offered by the United States, Japan and other western countries.

The British High Commissioner to Pakistan Hilary Nicholas Synnott on Tuesday called on Minister for Finance Shaukat Aziz and assured him that Pakistan's new economic difficulties will be removed through generous support by the US, Japan and western countries.

Sources in the ministry of finance said that Mr Aziz has been assured by the British envoy of all possible support. Pakistan was anticipating substantial reduction in exports as well as in revenues due to the present situation. "But new inflows are arriving in the shape of budgetary support and this is how we are hoping to overcome our economic difficulties," said an official of the ministry of finance.

War risk surcharge

Pakistan is likely to suffer a loss of nearly 200 million dollars over the next 12 months as a result of the decisions taken in the last week of September by the London-based Joint War Committee of Underwriters (JWCU) regarding war risk surcharge for ships.

Textile quota curbs

No headway has apparently been made in Pakistan-US talks on removal of textile quota restrictions and tariff reduction. The Pakistan team, led by Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood has not been able to win any other favour, local business sources, who are in touch with the team members in the US, told on Thursday.

Edible oil imports

Edible oil imports have begun to recover after dipping following the attacks on the United States last month, when shipping companies were reluctant to lift cargo bound for Pakistan, traders said on Thursday.

EPB gears up efforts

The Export Promotion Bureau will soon convene a conference of the foreign envoys in Pakistan and dispatch a team of officials to UK and other countries to allay all the fears and doubts of the shipping lines, insurers and businessmen about 'war risks' in Pakistan.

"We are watching the situation on day to day basis," Tariq Ikram, Chairman of the EPB, told on Wednesday. He said that a 'dynamic action plan' has been prepared to tackle the current situation being described as the "most telling and nerve shattering for the policy makers and businessmen." "But, we are at it," the EPB Chairman declared in a confident tone. He said that the salient features of the 'Dynamic Action Plan' would be made known in a day or two.

PIA cargo lifting rises

PIA's cargo lifting has increased to over 1,200 tons per week, which is almost 400 tons more than the normal lifting in the month of September.

50pc cut in freight

Pakistan is likely to reduce its port and freight charges to offset rising import-export costs due to levy of war risk insurance.

Informed sources said that the cut could be in the region of 25 to 50 per cent to minimise if not completely compensate for the war risk insurance factor.