The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Pakistan holds Afghan cargoes amid COVID-19 outbreak

Afghan cargo

By: Ahmadullah

KABUL: Pakistan Customs has directed terminal operators at the ports to make necessary arrangements for holding containers related to Afghan transit trade until clearance at the western borders restores, it emerged on Monday.
The government decided to close the customs stations at the western borders in the wake of coronavirus COVID-19. The trade activity at Chaman stations has been put on halt for the last 20 days, following the Pakistani government decision.
“Terminal operators may make necessary arrangement for stacking of transit containers within the transit area earmarked for storage and examination of transit containers till such time the operations at western borders completely restores,” the Directorate General of Transit Trade of Pakistan Customs said in a statement.
At Torkham border, all the containers of frozen chicken and animal products from China and other countries have been barred from clearance on account of Afghan government’s directives due to coronavirus.
There has been a chockablock of forward transit containers at the customs bonded areas due to closure of border customs stations at Torkham and Chaman – the two border crossing points. The directorate said a large number of transit containers dispatched from the ports were stuck at the two customs stations.
The Pakistani directorate said there is a complete moratorium of all activities at the western border to secure the health and safety of citizens.
“In order to avoid panic situation at the ports due to piling up of un-cleared transit containers, the assessment and examination staff of the directorate of transit trade have been directed to conduct examination of containers and assessment of goods that have arrived at the Karachi Port and Port Qasim and stop further processing after securing the insurance guarantee against good,” it said.
The sealing staff of the Model Custom Collectorate Enforcement and Compliance has been asked to affix seals on the containers within the yard area instead of clamping seals before the gate-out event. “The sealing event shall be done manually instead of the WeBOC (web-based one customs) system,” it said.
The directorate further said sealing staff after affixing seal would record the details of the seal on a paper to be pasted on the container and reported to the deputy director. A list of all seals affixed against the goods declaration would be maintained.
The directorate said after restoration of activities at the western borders, such goods declarations would become visible to the respective stakeholders responsible for entering bonded carrier details, sealing event and installation of tracker followed by gate-out message by a terminal operator. Afghanistan-Pakistan trade fell seven percent to $720.4 million in the first seven months of the current fiscal year of 2019/20 as exports to show a downward trend, the central bank’s data revealed. The State Bank of Pakistan’s latest data showed exports to Afghanistan declined to $633.1 million in the July-January period of FY2020, compared to $676.2 million in the corresponding period a year earlier. Imports, during the period, slid to $87.2 million from $98.7 million.
The landlocked Afghanistan depends on products’ inflows from Pakistan to meet its consumer needs. Pakistan is also used as a transit corridor for supply to the neighboring country, fetching revenues for the tax authorities.
However, the cross-border trade slowed in the recent past due to strict monitoring and increasing cost of transit and bilateral trade, according to a last month’s report by a state-run Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.