LAHORE - The trading goods, particularly kinnows and potatoes of millions of dollars, are stuck up at the Sost border between Pakistan and China, closed for a long time, causing huge financial losses to the Pakistani exporters.

“Surprisingly, the Border Management Committee has neither taken the stakeholders on board nor communicated them about the border closure. The exporters were informed about the closure of border when their merchandise reached there.”

The exporters said that stoppage of transit of Pakistani merchandise through Sost border and through Afghanistan would result in huge trade deficit that was already at the alarming level. They said that Pakistan’s trade deficit had increased to $9.3 billion from July to October 2016, which was expected to reach $28 billion during the financial year 2016-17. It is estimated that during the current financial year exports would decline to $19.5 billion and this was not a good omen for the economy.

LCCI President Abdul Basit said that Pakistan was already facing a huge trade deficit and measures like closure of Sost border would aggravate the situation. He said the growing trade deficit, led by a sharp slowdown in export growth, was posing a challenge to the macroeconomic stability of the country besides converting it into a consumer society.

“Since 2012, China has emerged as Pakistan’s largest trading partner, replacing the United States, therefore there is a dire need for smooth running of business activities between the two countries otherwise the country would be facing a huge loss,” the LCCI president said.

Basit said that transporters in Afghanistan had announced a countrywide strike from December 12. He said that transit trade through Iran to Central Asia was very limited due to higher transportation costs. He said this was high time to export kinnow to Central Asian States, which were major trade partners of Pakistan for the said produce.

The LCCI president urged the government to open the Sost border for movement of goods and transport without any exception. This would guarantee uninterrupted trade with the Central Asian States and enhance private sector’s confidence in the CPEC project. He said that concerned government quarters should join heads with the private sector to find out a methodology to increase exports of the country that was a prerequisite to control the trade deficit.

Basit said that relations between Pakistan and Russia warmed up in recent months. He said that good relations should be translated into good trade, investment and economic ties between the two countries.