Illegally imported Iranian fruit upsets Pakistan apple cart

According to growers from Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province — where over 85 percent of Pakistan’s apples are produced —Iranian apples are being smuggled into the country through the Afghanistan border, avoiding import taxes.

These Iranian apples are produced and sold at a lower price than the Pakistani variety are said to be harming local businesses, making it hard for them to even meet their costs.

By law, trade in Iranian goods must be conducted through the Taftan border crossing or other entry points on Pakistan’s border with Iran. But officials explained that by sending their produce through the Afghan border instead, the Iranian traders are circumventing sales taxes.

Akhtar Kakar, vice president of the Balochistan Chamber of Commerce, said traders were evading paying higher taxes by documenting Iranian apples as imports from Afghanistan. Apples were being sent from Iran to Afghanistan and then exported by Afghan traders to Pakistan, he told arabnews.com.

Muhammad Salim, a collector of customs in Peshawar, admitted that Iranian apples may be being smuggled into Pakistan, but said growers might be exaggerating the extent of the problem. “The illegal flow of Iranian apples cannot be ruled out due to the significant exemption of duty/taxes available to Afghan-origin apples,” Salim said, adding that the origins of agricultural produce, including apples, could not be ascertained through visual or physical examination or even through a lab test.


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