KARACHI: Importers have called on the government to help release Pakistani import shipments stranded at the Shanghai seaport as China’s industrial and commercial hub is currently under strict lockdown to contain the novel Covid outbreak, The News Saturday.
Pakistan is heavily dependent on China for imports, especially for raw materials for textiles, chemicals as well as consumer goods to meet national needs.
The country’s imports from China account for 27% of total imports. In the last fiscal year, the country imported $15.5 billion worth of goods from China out of the country’s total import bill, which stood at $56.37 billion in the last fiscal year.
According to people in business and industry, the problem first emerged in March this year and escalated in April when a strict lockdown was imposed to contain Covid in the industrial hub and city port of China.
Masood Naqi, industrialist and representative of the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) confirmed to The News that importers are facing huge problems due to blocked import shipments.
He said this situation was also not good for the country’s exports as the same containers would be used for this.
“This has been a serious problem for the local industry over the past two months,” Naqi said, adding that the raw material supply chain for the local industry is largely dependent on imports from China, especially textile and chemical industries.
“Consumer goods like electronics, plastics, etc. are also imported from China.”
Naqi said about 2,000 containers come from China carrying imported goods and the same ones are used for export after the imported cargoes are delivered.
“Now half of those containers arrive in Pakistan after being stuck in Shanghai and two other ports in China.”
The issue was taken up with the government when it started to emerge as a threat to trade, the KATI chief added.
“In March this year, former federal ministers Ali Zaidi and Abdul Razaq Dawood were asked to step in and help solve the problem; however, a change of regime has put everything on hold and the new government will take time to intervene.
Rahman Panjwani, a freight forwarder, said the problem of jammed containers was a concern; however, it was unclear how many containers were stuck at the Port of Shanghai.
“Some containers carrying imported goods have arrived in Pakistan but are stuck in customs clearance because their documents have not yet been received,” Panjwani said.