Traders have lamented that even after 10 years since the US approved a zero-rated facility under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), Pakistani mango exporters have failed to grab a modest slice of the American market.
In a statement on Tuesday, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI)’s Standing Committee on Agriculture former chairman Ahmad Jawad regretted that the exporters had failed to take full benefit of the scheme in the past 10 years.
Last year, the US imported mangoes worth $719 million but mango export from Pakistan stood below $90 million. Though a modern irradiation facility was planned to be established by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission in Lahore, the Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC), which was leading the initiative, was left virtually dormant.
After consistent efforts, the business community had managed to convince the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consider approving its irradiation facility, which was operated by the public sector, and it agreed with certain conditions.
The USDA said that if the government of Pakistan agreed to bear the cost of its inspectors to be deployed at the facility, then the US could consider granting approval.
However, the Ministry of Commerce refused to pay salaries and other allowances to the USDA inspectors for inspection of mango shipments meant for export, he said. “As a result, our mango export to the US stands at just 30 tons each year.”
Lofty freight charges, calculated at Rs400 per kg of mangoes, were the biggest hurdle in the way of export to the US.
Each kg of mangoes costs around $8 to reach the US market. The US government has set up three irradiation facilities for Pakistani mangoes in Mississippi, Texas, and Iowa.