Pharmaceutical companies in Amritsar demand transit route from Attari for export to Central Asia : The Tribune India

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Pharmaceutical companies in Amritsar demand transit route from Attari for export to Central Asia

Pharmaceutical companies in Amritsar demand transit route from Attari for export to Central Asia

The integrated checkpost at Attari in Amritsar. - FILE PHOTO



Tribune News Service

Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, May 14

After India and Iran on Monday signed a 10-year agreement to further develop the Chabahar port, city-based pharmaceutical firms exporting to Eurasia and Central Asia via Gulf and Turkey are upbeat.

Ajay, who runs a pharmaceutical unit in the city, said the agreement felicitated the connectivity for India from the Chabahar port to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Eurasia. He said not only his firm but other companies also manufacturing different products were exporting merchandise to these regions via Dubai, Turkey and even Europe. In the highly competitive global market, the long delivery routes made their products extremely pricey.

He demanded that the Indian and Iran governments should secure from Pakistan transit route from the Integrated Check Post (ICP), Attari, to Chabahar port. Similar arrangement was already in place between Afghanistan and India in which Pakistan provides a transit route. At present, India is allowed to only import from Afghanistan but in case of humanitarian aid, it had exported wheat to the landlocked country a few years back.

Rajan Bedi, another trader, said before the onset of Covid-19, his company was involved in exporting medicines to Turkmenistan. Based on his experience, he said there was immense scope of export from the ICP to the landlocked countries beyond Afghanistan, including Uzbekistan, Kazakhastan and Tajikistan. He added that the high quality city-based health sector could be turned into an avenue for medical tourism, offering advanced medical services to the natives of Central Asian countries.

Amit Kapur, another pharmaceutical manufacturer, recalled that before Covid-19, flights from these countries used to halt at the local airport. The crew of these flights used to ferry medicines from here. He said unpleasant bilateral relations between India and Pakistan halted the trade about five years ago, causing immense losses not only to the importers and exporters but also job losses to the importers. He said in case governments of the two countries take time to resume cross-border trade, then the Indian government should secure transit rights to the Chabahar port from Attari.

Import of merchandise from Afghanistan is the only saving grace which provides business to those who import fresh and dry fruits, herbs besides spices via ICP Attari.

Before the Indian government had raised customs duty on import of goods from Pakistan by 200 per cent following the Pulwama attack on the CRPF on February 14 2019, about 200 trucks used to cross over here from Pakistan. Exactly six months later, in August 2019, the Pakistan government then led by Prime Minister Imran Khan had suspended trade ties with India to express anguish at the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. It considerably brought down the daily wage earning opportunity for porters who found the scope of their jobs reduced.

Inaugurated on April 13, 2012, the ICP Attari used to export only to Pakistan while it imported merchandise from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now, it is only importing through Afghanistan as Pakistan provides a transit facility.

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