Economics & Business Indo-Pak Affairs

Non-tariff barriers curtail Pakistani cement exports to India

KARACHI: Cement exports from Pakistan to India have plunged from monthly average of 60,000 tons to less than 15,000 tons due to delay in renewal of quality certification of the manufacturers by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), industry sources said here Tuesday.

Most of the quality certificates issued by the BIS to the Pakistani cement exporters expired in August this year and to give sufficient time required for procedural matters they applied for renewal as early as in June 2010, sources said.

Many commodities could not enter India without quality certification by the BIS and cement is also included in this list, said Amjad Rafi a leading exporter of cement to India. Most of the popular Pakistani brands, including Maple Leaf, DG Khan, Fecto, Bestway and Pak-Cement have stopped exports and are waiting for BIS quality certification for
last five to six months, he added.

Cement exporters took up the matter at the diplomatic level and also approached the Indian ministries of commerce and foreign affairs but to no avail, sources said.

The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi was also asked to take up the matter at the highest level but this also did not produce any result except that a routine nature of commitment came from the Indian officials.

There is great demand for Pakistani cement in India, particularly in the north and border areas like Punjab up to Delhi but it is difficult to understand why the Indian officials are using delaying tactics for issuing BIS certification, the sources said. However, there is a strong feeling in the Pakistani business community at large and the cement exporters in particular that the Indians are using Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) as usual to discourage imports from Pakistan, asserted Amjad Rafi.

When cement exports to India started in early 2007, the BIS took more than six months to issue certificates whereas the entire procedure only needs two months, he maintained.

Another exporter said that since less cement units were located in northern states of India, including Punjab owing to poor quality limestone in the region, there is constant demand of cement and Pakistan having a proximity advantage saves huge amount in freight for the Indian importers.

Before getting BIS certificate many formalities have to be met, including physical inspection of the manufacturing units by a BIS team and examination of samples drawn for lab test.

Exporters complained that even after the lapse of six months no BIS inspector had visited Pakistan and things were at stand still position. It was also suggested to BIS officials to extend the validity of existing certificates for a period of six months subject to renewal but yet no progress has been made.

Amjad Rafi said cement exports to India had plunged whereas imports of Indian goods to Pakistan are to the tune of $4.5 billion ($2 billion official and $2.5 billion unofficial) against only $450 million imports from Pakistan.
Input from Agencies

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Mubashar Nizam

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