Iranian tomatoes arrive in Pakistan to meet demand gap

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In this file photo, Pakistani vendors sell tomatoes at the main fruit and vegetable market in Islamabad on June 24, 2009. (AFP)
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A man rides on donkey cart while selling tomatoes along a road in Karachi on May 25, 2016. (REUTERS/File)
Updated 16 November 2019

Iranian tomatoes arrive in Pakistan to meet demand gap

  • Says the US sanctions don’t apply on trade related to food items
  • The import will be for about four weeks to meet the shortage in local market, official says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government has allowed businessmen to import tomatoes from neighboring Iran to meet increasing demand at home and to control the skyrocketing price of the commodity in the local market.
“The tomatoes import from Iran is allowed for three to four weeks to meet the shortage,” Muhammad Ameer Sultan, Parliamentary Secretary for National Food Security and Research, told Arab News on Friday.
Tomato is one of the major staples in Pakistan and its recent shortage and resultant price hike in the market has fueled public protests and criticism of the government. This has prompted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to allow import of the commodity from neighboring country which is otherwise struggling to discourage imports to bring down the ballooning trade and current account deficits.
Sultan said that the tomato crop arrival has been delayed in Sindh and Balochistan provinces due to cold weather while Punjab’s production has already hit the market. “This is a temporary shortage … the import from Iran will help bring down the commodity’s prices in the market,” he said.
He expected the imported tomatoes would reach Pakistani vegetables markets in the next few days. He also clarified that Pakistan had not been importing tomatoes from India since 2017 due to a ‘disease’ in the produce, which could harm the local crop seed.
“This is a misconception. We weren’t importing tomatoes from India even when the bilateral trade was open,” he said.
The tomatoes price shot up in the market in recent days owing to the acute shortage of the produce and it is being sold as high as Rs300 ($1.93) per kilogram in different parts of the country. The official price of one kilogram of tomatoes on average in major cities is calculated to be Rs164 ($1.05), according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
The government has not set any exact quota or quantity of tomatoes to be imported from Iran, the parliamentary secretary said, adding that the import would end automatically after the arrival of the new crop in the market by early December.
Iran has been under the US economic sanctions for its controversial nuclear program that has inhibited Pakistan and other countries to establish trade and economic relationship with the Islamic Republic. Islamabad therefore has no legal banking channel with Tehran for payments against any import or export. The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries stands around mere $400 million per annum.
“The US sanctions don’t apply on trade related to food items,” the parliamentary secretary said, “we have been doing barter trade with Iran for vegetables and fruits only.”


Mahathir gifts PM Khan 'made in Malaysia' car

Updated 15 December 2019

Mahathir gifts PM Khan 'made in Malaysia' car

  • PM adviser on commerce will receive the Malaysian X-70 Proton car at a ceremony in Islamabad on Monday
  • The Proton corporation has begun manufacturing cars in Karachi, along with a local partner

ISLAMABAD: A luxury car gifted to Prime Minister Imran Khan by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, has arrived in Pakistan and will be handed over to the government in a ceremony at the Malaysian High Commission in Islamabad on Monday.
Mohamad gifted the Malaysian manufactured X-70 Proton to Khan during his three-day official visit to Pakistan in March earlier this year. 
A Proton joint venture between Pakistan and Malaysia was first agreed on last year, and was the center-piece of a series of agreements signed during Mohamad’s visit.
“This will go a long way in consolidating the excellent relations between the two Muslim countries,” Razak Dawood, Khan’s adviser on commerce, told Arab News on Sunday.
Dawood will receive the car on behalf of the Prime Minister. A symbolic car key was already presented to Khan by the Malaysian PM at a signing ceremony in Islamabad.

In this file photo, the 2019 Proton X70 SUV is revealed during an official launching ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 12, 2018. (AFP)

The manufacturing and assembly of the Malaysian Proton cars has already begun in Pakistan with a local partner, Al Hajj Automotive. 
The Proton plant, near the southern port city of Karachi, is the latest in a series of assembly deals set up in Pakistan by international auto-makers including Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motors.
The Malaysian-based company, Proton, was established in 1983 and has so far sold 3 million cars worldwide. Proton cars are sold in more than 25 countries including Britain, Singapore and Australia.
Pakistan warmed up bilateral relations with Malaysia after Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the country in November last year. Multiple investment agreements have also been signed in different sectors as part of Islamabad’s efforts to attract foreign investment, to boost a fragile economy and create job opportunities.
The investment projects that Malaysia has promised to carry out in Pakistan include its Edotco Group’s agreements in the telecom sector with local units of China Mobile and Telenor, as well as local mobile group, Jazz.
Other deals include a halal meat agreement signed by the foods unit of Pakistan’s Fauji Foundation conglomerate and a $20 million venture capital agreement between Pakistan’s Fatima Ventures and Gobi Partners of Malaysia.