Pak Onion exports to India not resumed

Lahore: Onion exports from Pakistan to India via the Wagah land border have not yet resumed despite the partial easing of a ban even as an exporter claimed the supplies of the vegetable to the neighbouring country had shot up through the sea route.

The supplies through the land route has been stuck as authorities have made it mandatory for exporters to possess "irrevocable letters of credit" issued before January 4.

Due to this condition imposed by authorities, not even a single truck has crossed over to the Indian side since yesterday, customs officials here told PTI.

The condition has made it difficult to clear even consignments that have been stranded on the Pakistani side at Wagah for the past few days, they said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had on Wednesday given permission for Pakistani traders to go ahead with onion exports to India for orders that were concluded before January 4, when authorities imposed a ban on the supply of the vegetable via the land route.

The overall ban on onion exports remains in place.

Muhammad Khalil Bhatti, a leading exporter of Lahore, said orders for perishable items were usually concluded with Indian importers orally on the basis of mutual understanding and payments were received after the delivery of consignments.

?The government has made it difficult for exporters to clear their finalised orders by imposing the condition of requirement of a letter of credit.

Consignments of perishable goods are dealt with by importers and exporters on a day-to-day basis,? he said.

Bhatti said a majority of traders had either dumped their onion consignments in warehouses or sold them in the local market as they had no other option.

A few traders, who did not remove their trucks from the border, were still hoping their consignments would be cleared.

Bhatti criticised the government for only blocking onion export via the Wagah land border, saying large quantities of onions were being exported by other land and sea routes.

Following the ban, around 1,000 tonnes of onion was being sent to India by sea and exports were also continuing to Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Malaysia and other countries on a daily basis, he said.

Before the ban was put in place, hardly 200 to 300 tonnes of onions were being sent to India from the Karachi port, Bhatti said.

Authorities said they had imposed the ban to stabilise prices in the domestic market, which they claimed had surged after onion exports to India began in mid-December.

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