Pakistan-Iran border trade resumes amid surge in virus cases

Pakistan has resumed border trade with Iran, as both countries look to return to normal amid the coronavirus pandemic. A key export item from Pakistan to Iran are mangoes, which are in season in Pakistan. However, both of the countries are not yet out of the grip of the coronavirus, and it remains to be seen how they deal with it.

Pakistan-Iran border

Pakistan has said that its border with Iran, which was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, will remain open seven days a week for trade purposes. The restart of Pakistan-Iran border trade is another step by the two countries toward normalisation, as they seek to break free from the economic shackles imposed on them by the coronavirus pandemic.

Taftan border crossing “will remain open 7 days a week for trade only,” the Ministry of Interior said in a notification on Wednesday.

Pakistan-Iran border trade to be carried out with stringent SOPs

The authorities will ensure that proper standard operating procedures and health guidelines are followed, it added.

Pakistan shut the border on Feb. 24, suspended trade activities and barred its citizens from traveling to Iran, the epicenter of the outbreak in Middle East.

Read more: Pakistan’s Border Trade Issues Reducing its GDP Potential

Bilateral trade activities resumed in May but thrice a week only.

Pakistan and Iran share over 900km-long border. Thousands of Pakistanis, mostly Shia pilgrims, visit Iran via the Taftan border every year.

Pakistan-Iran border trade: mangoes key item from Pakistan

The government on Monday decided to extend opening time of Pakistan-Iran border for export of mangoes to the neighbouring nation.

The Special Committee of National Assembly on Agricultural Products decided to extend number of days per week and duration for each day for export of mangoes to Iran. Limit on number of trucks coming from Iran is also expanded.

Pakistan-Iran border remains open for three days with a limit on daily duration. The decision was taken in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in March.

The NA body met under a chairmanship of Speaker Asad Qaiser. The meeting was attended by Minister for Planning Asad Umer, Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar, Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is also chairman of Farmers’ Association of Pakistan, among others.

Read more: Pakistan’s mango exports stalled by coronavirus pandemic

The meeting called for another meeting between mango exporters and PIA on Tuesday (today). The committee on interior affairs was directed to send its recommendations on issues related to export of mangoes to Iran. The committee would send its recommendations to the ministry of interior for further action.

Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed said an increase in share of PIA in export volume of mangoes would save foreign exchange being paid to foreign carriers as freight charges for mango exports.

Mango export to Iran via land route is also badly suffering due to various serious issues, according to the PFVA.

COVID-19 situation

Pakistan recorded a further 5,358 coronavirus cases during the past 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 160,118, according to the Health Ministry.

The South Asian country also reported 118 virus-linked deaths, taking the total to 3,093. As many as 59,215 patients, meanwhile, have successfully recovered and discharged from hospitals across the nation of over 200 million people.

Read more: Pakistan records 137 Coronavirus deaths: Will ‘smart lockdown’ work?

To control the surge in infections, the government has imposed a “smart lockdown” — restrictions in selected areas of 20 major cities considered to be virus hotspots. These include the capital Islamabad, commercial capital and most populous city Karachi, eastern city of Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta, among others.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk

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