Violent protest caused shutdown

Pakistan fruit, veg exporters concerned by flight suspension

On Tuesday 2 February, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight operations shut down across the country, causing concern for fruit and vegetable exporters over the future of their exports. The airlines operations were suspended after an anti-privatisation protest by workers of the national carrier turned violent, leading to the deaths of at least three demonstrators.

Exporters fear that if PIA flight operations do not resume shortly, international airlines could cash in on the situation by increasing freight charges, making exports of Pakistani products uncompetitive on the world market.

The share of airborne shipments out of country’s total fruit and vegetable exports was 10-15 percent, of which PIA held a 30-40 percent share, said Aslam Pakhali, a former vice chairman of the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA).

The daily volume of fruit and vegetable shipments through PIA stood at around 50 tonnes (worth around $100,000), he said, adding that the airline’s staffers had already refused to take export cargoes from Tuesday morning.

Mr Pakhali said PIA also increased freight charges last month by Rs10 per kg on fruit and vegetable shipments for all destinations.

Custard apple (shareefa), Sapota (chiku), green chilli, Colocasia (arvi), apple gourd (tinda) and round bottle gourd (loki) were being exported to Canada, the European Union, Gulf countries and Maldives at present, he added.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, total fruit exports in July-December 2015-16 were 214,776 tonnes ($180 million) compared to 259,331 tonnes ($196m) a year ago.

Vegetable exports went up to 276,544 tonnes ($80m) during the period from 212,575 tonnes ($60m) in the corresponding period last fiscal.

In FY15, fruit exports slightly fell to 706,254 tonnes ($439m) from 784,378 tonnes ($435m) in FY14. Vegetable exports swelled to 712,524 tonnes ($232m) in FY15 from 568,079 tonnes ($209m) in FY14.

(1 Indian Rupee=0.015 USD)

Source: dawn.com

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