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Ta-ta Twix, hello Belco—Pakistan’s import ban is a cause for local chocolates to celebrate

New Delhi: For the first time, Pakistan’s domestic chocolate manufacturers and chocolatiers have a chance to appeal to the tastebuds of consumers who have grown accustomed to Lady Godiva, Lindt, Maltesers and Twix. Apart from cars, mobile phones and furniture, Pakistan’s latest ban is on the import of 38 different types of “non-essential luxury items”. And it includes a myriad of food and beverage products, such as confectioneries and chocolates.

As a result, Pakistani consumers are set to be deprived of easy access to their favourite international brands. The authorities have even started seizing items brought by citizens returning from other countries—a move that has not gone down well with the elite.

Also Read: Bad news for Pakistan’s rich. Shehbaz Sharif budget will tax them, ban car imports

Hope for local chocolates

English language daily Dawn, however, appeared optimistic that these restrictions represent an opportunity for several domestic manufacturers.

Alongside old favourite Cadbury Dairy Milk, local chocolatiers in the country include Aztec, Lals Patisserie, Belco, Opal, Dulce, Candy Box Shop, Raco and Candyland. But Cadbury and Candyland aside, the brands listed by Dawn are either restricted to major metropolitan areas of Karachi and Lahore or are termed expensive luxury brands.

As stated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb in May, the goal of this import ban is to preserve “precious foreign exchange” in an “emergency economic plan” amounting to billions of dollars for Pakistan amid an economic crisis.

“We will practice austerity and financially stronger people must lead in this effort so that the less privileged among us do not have to bear this burden inflicted on them by the PTI govt,” Sharif tweeted. Meanwhile, Aurangzeb told Dawn that Pakistan had what it took to fix the economy and that the import ban was aimed at economic stability.

Also Read: Mobile phone makers in Pakistan dial SOS as dollar squeeze pushes production to near-halt

Debate around imports

Within a week of the announcement of the ban, The Tribune reported that customs officials were seizing luxury items, including chocolates, brought by Pakistani passengers returning from other countries.

“The word ‘import’ means to bring goods into the country for sale. Items brought for personal use, such as cell phones or a packet of chocolates, in the personal luggage of passengers arriving in the country do not qualify as ‘imports’. Apparently, the staff at the airports do not quite understand the difference…the airport staff continues to harass the passengers and confiscate their personal items under the pretext of import prohibition of foreign goods,” an editorial comment by Haroon M. Yusuf published on Pakistan Today hit out at the policy.

One of the few food items exempt from this restrictive import ban, however, is olive oil. Edible oil and olive oil are not included in the ban, though reports say that the list is continuously updated.

“Among the banned foods are pasta, sauces, fish, frozen foods, fruits, dry fruits, juices, jams and jelly. Other prohibited goods include cars, shoes, carpets, furniture, kitchenware, chocolate, musical instruments and cosmetics,” the Olive Oil Times reported.

(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)

Source: The Print

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