Labelling curbs for FMCGs import delayed till June 30


KARACHI: Caving in to the fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) importers’ demand, the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has delayed implementation of SRO237, which requires to print details and ingredients of the food products in Urdu and English on consumer packaging besides halal certification, from the start of next fiscal year.

The ministry on Tuesday through SRO438 temporarily allowed imports of FMCGs till June 30 without the above mentioned conditions.

However, the previous SRO237, which was issued on Feb 19, shall now take effect from July 1.

The government had imposed a sort of tariff barrier for import of FMCG through SRO237, resulting in suspension of FMCG imports followed by holding of foreign suppliers shipments to Pakistan.

New requirements including halal certification under SRO237 to take effect from July 1

Besides, many importers also started receiving show cause notices from the Customs on filing goods declaration (GDs) on imported food items since the issuance of SRO237.

A number of importers and super store-owners — whose containers were awaiting clearance at the port — had stopped filing GDs with the Customs.

However, the new SRO could not help in the release of consignments from port on Tuesday. According to importers, the Customs received the new SRO late afternoon.

“I think the process of held up container clearance from the port will begin from Wednesday,” said Nasir Araeen, member All Pakistan FMCG Importers Association.

Another member of the association, Yahya Chawla gave a conservative estimate of 300-400 stuck up FMCGs at the port.

According to Mr Chawla, clearing agents informed him that the Customs had started installing necessary documentary evidences of goods in the WeBoc system for clearance so that containers could be released from Wednesday.

On implementation of SRO237 from July 1, he said, “We look forward towards the commerce ministry to reach a mutual framework for future imports of FMCGs for both the government and stakeholders.”

He said the market and super stores had already been facing shortage of FMCGs. “We are happy that the government has averted a major shortage of FMCGs in the country especially during Ramazan starting next month,” he added.

Pakistan imports around 2,400 containers bearing FMCGs every year, accounting to volumes of 55,000-60,000 tonnes with total value of $700-750 million.

For over one month, Prime Minister’s Adviser, Abdul Razak Dawood had been assuring the leadership of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and importers of FMCGs for resolving the issue.

Chairman Businessmen Group and former president KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli along with importers had planned an emergency press conference on April 3, 2019 in the afternoon. However, Mr Dawood rang up Mr Teli assuring him that the SRO237 would be implemented from July 1, 2019.

However, the commerce ministry issued SRO438 on April 9, 2019 after a gap of six days.

Under the SRO237, importers have been asked to ensure that “the logo of the halal certification body shall be printed on the consumer packaging … and the labelling shall not be in the form of a sticker, overprinting, stamp or scratched labelling.”

The shipment shall be accompanied by a ‘halal certificate’ issued by a halal certification body, the SRO adds. Moreover, the SRO order has also increased the shelf life remaining on the product upon its import to 66 per cent from 50pc.

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