A number of Afghan businessmen have called on the government to tax Pakistan’s seasonal exports, much as Pakistan taxes Afghan exports.
In fact, businessmen say the government should impose tariffs not only on Pakistan, but Iran as well, for fruits and vegetables.
The harvest season has come, but due to seasonal high tariffs from Pakistan these products do not have a market.
Afghan businessmen say that domestic markets are currently full of Iranian and Pakistani fruits and vegetables — which are also produced in Afghanistan, and the government is doing nothing to support domestic products.
“When our fruit season arrives, Pakistan imposes a high tariff on our fruits and we have to sell our products for less,” said Ashraf, a businessman.
“Import tariffs on products from Iran and Pakistan should be raised, which is in the favor of the government itself. If there are no high tariffs, the domestic agricultural market will suffer,” said Qodratullah, another businessman.
Potato farmers, for which harvest season has arrived, face the challenge of not having a market. Each kilogram is sold for up to 12 Afghanis ($0.15 dollar).
At the moment potatoes are not exported to Pakistan due to the seasonal high tariff, but Pakistani and Iranian potatoes are traded at domestic markets at a better price than domestic potatoes.
“I am not saying that importing from Iran and Pakistan should be banned at the moment while our own potatoes season is here, but it is not necessary to export in such high quantities in our own season. Tariffs on imported potatoes should be increased in order to support domestic products,” said Mirwais Haji Zada, deputy vice president of the fresh fruits and vegetables exporters union.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Finance says that this year the ministry did impose seasonal tariffs to support the country’s agricultural products.
“In the case of domestic products, the tariff goes up during the harvest season. For example, the tariff on the import of potatoes has been increased up to 30 percent, and when the season ends domestically the tariffs were reduced,” said Shamroz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.
At the same time, a number of traders say that corruption in customs, along a lack of imposed tariffs from the Afghan side, are the reason for low prices of a number of Pakistani and Iranian agricultural products in the country’s markets.