The cross-border trade between India and Pakistan through the Attari border is witnessing a slump even as traders and authorities have ruled out any political reason behind the trend.
It is not only the exports which have seen a major dip, the imports too, including those of cement, dry fruits and glass, have come down heavily.
A close look at the scenario shows that the volume of imports now totally depends on gypsum, which continues to come in large quantity.
Indicating a considerable decline in imports, the Attari border witnessed the arrival of only 100 trucks daily from Pakistan over the past few days, as compared to 160 to 170 trucks crossing the border till the recent past.
The imports of Pakistani cement and dry fruits from Afghanistan have taken a hit and very few trucks carrying these items are crossing the border these days.
Also, the imposition of duty on glass has brought down the glass imports from Pakistan in a big way.
Though the authorities at the border do not see any political reasons behind the trend, they just feel that imports have gone down due to a decline in demand.
Commenting on the slump in cement imports, Cement Importers Association president MPS Chatha, said, “Definitely the cement import has seen a major decline in the past few days. If about 60-70 trucks of cement were coming to India recently through the integrated check-post, now the number has come down to 10-12. We don’t see any political reason behind it. It is primarily due to the slump in real estate and construction business here.”
He further said, “I myself was importing big quantity of cement every day, but now I too have brought it down to 3-4 trucks a day”.
Talking to HT, BK Bajaj, chairman of the Indo-Foreign Chamber of Commerce, said, “We do not see the slump as a result of any political tussle between two nations or the Peshawar terror attack. I feel it something to do with viability. This is the reason that dry fruit imports have slipped. Things may change as soon as the demand picks up.”
Talking to HT, a customs official, on condition of anonymity, said, “On an average, around 100 trucks are now crossing over to India as compared to 170 sometime back. Now, 90% of these imports is gypsum.”
The exports to Pakistan through the Attari Border during the month of December this year have slipped as compared to the same period in 2013.
The worst-hit items are soya bean, plastic granules and cotton. As per the customs officials at Attari, during the period between December 1 to 23 last year, 94 trucks of plastic granules, 2,336 trucks of soya bean meals and 224 trucks of cotton crossed over to Pakistan.