Commerce ministry issues clarification to ban on Indian imports

Commerce ministry issues clarification to ban on Indian imports

The Ministry of Commerce has issued a clarification regarding the ban on imports from India, stating that Letter of Credit (LC) or Bill of Lading (BL) issued prior to August 09, 2019, will be allowed for customs clearance.

The clarification comes in response to SROs 927(I)/2019 and 928(I)/2019 dated August 09, 2019, which imposed a ban on bilateral trade with India as a protest against India’s illegal constitutional changes in Occupied Kashmir.

The Ministry of Commerce’s notification, dated August 16, 2019, aims to provide clarity on the application of the ban and its implications on trade transactions that were already in progress before the ban was implemented.

The key points of the clarification are as follows:

1. Allowance for Pre-August 09, 2019 LCs and BLs: The ministry emphasized that shipments in the pipeline, for which LC or BL had been issued prior to August 09, 2019, would not be affected by the ban. This exemption aligns with the proviso to paragraph 4 of the Import Policy Order, 2016, which states that amendments to the order shall not apply to imports for which BL or LC was issued before the issuance of the amending order.

2. Impact on Afghanistan – Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA): The clarification explicitly mentioned that the ban imposed by SROs would not affect trade under the Afghanistan – Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), 2010. This ensures the continuity of legal trade operations between the two countries.

3. Smuggling Concerns: The Ministry of Commerce acknowledged concerns raised about the potential increase in smuggling of Indian goods, the import of Indian-origin goods through misdeclaration via third countries, and smuggling under APTTA. In response, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was urged to take necessary enforcement measures to prevent misdeclaration and smuggling.

4. Anti-Smuggling Campaign: The ministry recommended that the FBR launch an effective anti-smuggling campaign immediately against smuggled Indian goods available in markets across the country. This proactive approach aims to curb illegal trade activities and protect local markets from unauthorized imports.

The clarification from the Ministry of Commerce seeks to address any ambiguity regarding the ban on imports from India. By allowing customs clearance for shipments with pre-August 09, 2019 LCs or BLs, the government aims to ensure a smooth transition and minimize disruptions for businesses involved in ongoing trade transactions. Additionally, the emphasis on preventing smuggling reflects the government’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of trade regulations and protecting local industries. The clarification reinforces the government’s stance on the ban while providing practical solutions for businesses engaged in lawful trade activities.