Trade between India and Pakistan Indo-Pakistan trade through the recently opened Attari Integrated Check Post received a major setback on Friday after Indian traders under the banner of Confederation of International Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CICCI) stopped exports to Pakistan alleging exorbitant handling charges for trade consignments by the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC).
Following the strike,no trucks from India crossed over to Pakistan. Import consignments crossed over to India,but the Indian traders refused to lift the consignments.
A CICCI spokesperson said that the traders had decided to discontinue trade through Attari ICP for an indefinite period after their talks with CWC to get the handling charges reduced failed to yield desired results.
The traders alleged that the labour,operational and storage charges were too exorbitant and said that the storage facilities for gypsum from Pakistan were also inadequate.
A CICCI spokesperson said that meetings with top officials including the managing director of CWC failed to give the traders any relief. The spokesperson alleged that at the time of opening of the ICP,the traders were promised that the handling charges would be reduced. But,that has not happened and the traders have been called for a meeting with top CWC officials in New Delhi on Tuesday, he added.
CWC Manager at Attari,Rameshwaram said: The handling charges are less at ICP and a service tax of nearly 12.5 percent takes the handling charges to almost what they were paying in when they traded through old gate. Some of the traders are reluctant to pay the service tax. Then there is the entry fee of Rs 200 for the trucks. I dont know why traders are protesting now after agreeing to the arrangement on April 11, adding that trucks carrying gypsum,cement,dry dates and fruits arrived from Pakistan on Friday.
Trade reportedly doubled after the opening of the Attari ICP. The stalemate between CWC and the traders are threatening to cast a shadow on the enhanced potential of cross-border trade.