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Afghanistan exports 40 tons of dried, fresh fruits to India

Afghanistan exports 40 tons of dried, fresh fruits to India

Oct 28, 2017 - 20:11

KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): Fresh and dried fruits weighing 40 tons were flown from southern Kandahar province to India through the Afghanistan-India air corridor, officials said Saturday.

It was the fourth cargo plane exporting fruits from Kandahar to India since the Afghanistan-India air corridor was inaugurated.

Kandahar governor’s spokesman, Qudratullah Khushbakht, told Pajhwok Afghan News the fourth cargo plane loaded with 40 tons of fresh and dried fruits flew from the Kandahar International Airport to India on Friday evening. He said the fruits included grapes, pomegranates, fig and other fruits.

He said the process of exporting goods via the air corridor was ongoing successful and cargo flights would increase in future.

The first cargo flight on June 24 had exported 40 tons of dry and fresh fruits to India. The cargo flights between Afghanistan and India had to be halted for some technical problems, but the process resumed after the problems were resolved.

Officials say the flights process would be accelerated and traders would be provided with all needed facilities for making the business through the air corridor more successful.

Jalalur Rahman Sharar, a fresh fruits trader in Kandahar, said only one cargo flight had taken place from the province in two months since the air corridor’s inauguration.

He said delaying flights inflicted losses on traders. Sharar asked officials of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to accelerate cargo flights because the air transportation was cost-effective and easy compared to land.

It takes six days to export fruits from Afghanistan to India by land, with a kilogram costing 60 cents, compared a few hours journey and 20 cents cost on per kg by air.

ACCI officials say several cargo flights, most of them from Kabul, had been made from Afghanistan to India since the corridor’s inauguration.

Khan Jan Alokozay, deputy ACCI head, had told Pajhwok Afghan News that dozens of tons of fruits and medical herbs worth millions of dollars were exported to India via the air corridor.

He said the cargo flights were suspended due to some technical problems which had been solved.

On June 19 President Ashraf Ghani and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally inaugurated the Afghanistan-India Air Corridor in capital Kabul.

The aim of the air corridor is to develop commerce and economy and remove transit barriers between Afghanistan and India.

Friday’s cargo flight from Kandahar comes after Pakistan recently increased taxes on imported goods including fruits from Afghanistan, forcing importers in Kandahar to crease operations.

Fresh Fruits Traders’ Association head, Haji Nanai Agha said traders had stopped exporting to Pakistan after the country increased taxes on imported goods.

He said Pakistan previously charged 6,000 Pakistani rupees tax on each ton of pomegranates from Kandahar but increased the duty to Rs15,000 in the new tax policy. In the past, the tax on one ton of grape was 8,000 Pakistani rupees that soared to Rs28,000.

He said the high taxes had rendered Afghan traders unable even to pay transport cost, a reason traders stopped their exports to Pakistan since last three days.

Kandahar Chamber of Commerce and Industry head, Haji Nasrullah Zahir, told Pajhwok that he had shared the problem with the Presidential Palace, the ministers concerned and the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul. He said the Pakistan consul had also shared the problem with the central government of Pakistan.

However, on Saturday, the Pakistani ambassador in Kabul said he had shared the issue of increased import duty on Afghan goods with his country’s authorities who he said were considering to exempt Afghan goods from the raise.

Pakistan last year also closed the Spin Boldak border crossing for three weeks at a time when fresh fruits season was in peak in Kandahar, causing