Pak Onion exports to India not resumed

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Lahore, Jan 14 (PTI) Onion exports from Pakistan toIndia via the Wagah land border have not yet resumed despitethe partial easing of a ban even as an exporter claimed thesupplies of the vegetable to the neighbouring country had shotup through the sea route.

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

Due to this condition imposed by authorities, not evena single truck has crossed over to the Indian side sinceyesterday, customs officials here told PTI.

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

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had on Wednesdaygiven permission for Pakistani traders to go ahead with onionexports to India for orders that were concluded before January4, when authorities imposed a ban on the supply of thevegetable 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 withIndian importers orally on the basis of mutual understandingand payments were received after the delivery of consignments.

�The government has made it difficult for exporters toclear their finalised orders by imposing the condition ofrequirement of a letter of credit.

Consignments of perishable goods are dealt with byimporters and exporters on a day-to-day basis,� he said.

Bhatti said a majority of traders had either dumpedtheir onion consignments in warehouses or sold them in thelocal market as they had no other option.

A few traders, who did not remove their trucks fromthe border, were still hoping their consignments would becleared.

Bhatti criticised the government for only blockingonion export via the Wagah land border, saying largequantities of onions were being exported by other land and searoutes.

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

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

Authorities said they had imposed the ban to stabiliseprices in the domestic market, which they claimed had surgedafter onion exports to India began in mid-December.

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