Enthusiasm sustains cross-LoC trade
Srinagar, Oct 20: Even as the cross-LoC trade has completed one year, the business between the two sides continues to be conducted by barter in absence of banking and communication facilities. According to traders, what keeps the trade going despite many odds was traders’ dedication and enthusiasm.
“This trade is truly miraculous. In spite of running on barter system for one year now, it still continues,” exclaimed Muhammad Ashraf Wani, general manager DIC Varmul, who is also the custodian officer for cross-LoC trade at Salamabad, Uri.
“In fact the number of trucks and quantity and value of goods has been increasing from one month to another. For instance, while in first week of trade merely 21 truckloads were received from AJK, 149 trucks were received in the previous week,” he said.
The trade between the two parts of divided Kashmir was started on October 21, 2008. Explaining the mechanism of barter system, Shahid Chowdhary, member New Kashmir Fruit Association, said, “We first explore what our requirements are and then place orders for goods from AJK, like for carpets, slippers, pulses, etc.”
He said orders were placed mostly through email. “Sometimes we convey them through phone also, but that is possible only when they contact us otherwise there is no telecommunication link from this side,” he said.
In turn, the AJK traders inform this side what goods they require. “The rates are also communicated through email. We try to ensure there is a balance of value of goods on both sides,” said Chowdhary. “We then sell AJK goods in the local market and this is how we earn out of it,” he said.
Traders said since modalities of the trade had not been finalized yet, “We come across lot of difficulties.”
“Unless government defines the currency, the trade is a futile exercise,” said Javed Ahmad Bhat, partner Bashir Fruit Company Sopur.
“We simply don’t know at what cost our goods are sold in AJK, to whom we have to send money and so on,” he said.
According to the custodian officer, during past one year consignments valuing at least Rs 45 crores have been traded between two parts of Kashmir. He said goods worth Rs 18.69 crores have been exported by 169 Valley traders to AJK. The value of goods imported from AJK was Rs 26.57 crores.
Prominent among the exported goods is 17847.90 quintals of fresh vegetables, 14554.53 quintals of coconut, 5906.85 quintals of fresh fruits and 22416 pieces of embroidered items.
Among the goods imported, the major items were 64891.87 quintals of Pakistani green gram, 12172.5 quintals of garlic, 5161.83 quintals of fresh fruits, 47653 pieces of shawls, stoles, scarf and dupattas and 24808 pieces of prayer mats.
As per the traders, what kept the trade going despite several odds was traders’ dedication and enthusiasm.
“This trade is still moving on only because we don’t want it to stop. This is what has been the main motive of traders from both sides and Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry,” said Chowdhary.
“Traders’ only concern is that if they boycott the trade, government will take no further action and this trade will be stopped forever. People are still expecting the currency issue to be sorted out,” said Bhat.
President KCCI, Nazir A Dar, said there was a dire need to convert cross-LOC trade from a ‘symbolic’ trade to an ‘actual’ one. “We are still lacking communication and banking facilities. We want such facilities should be provided on priority basis besides infrastructure at trade facilitation centres,” he said.
Besides, he said, traders here should be allowed to go to the other side. “The government is yet to send a trade delegation to AJK despite assurances. They ought to come forward and help us in this regard,” said Dar.
“We again appeal to the government not to discourage this trade. They should provide us with banking, telecommunication and other facilities, so that this trade runs smoothly,” said Chowdhary.
He said a meeting point for traders must be made near Kaman Post, where traders from both the sides could meet at least once in a month “so that they can discuss issues pertaining to the trade.”
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Oct 2009 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Oct 2009 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 21 Oct 2009 00:00:00 IST
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