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Drop in tea exports to Pakistan blamed on smugglers

CARTOON
By | August 14th 2009

By Peter Mutai in Hong Kong

Kenya’s tea exports to Pakistan have dropped due to smuggling along the Afghanistan borders.

Former chairman of Pakistan Tea Association, Hamid Saeed Khawaja said businessmen in the neighbouring Afghanistan perpetrated the vice to evade taxation.

He said Afghanis, who import tea from Kenya through Pakistan later smuggle the commodity back to Pakistan. Speaking to The Standard after the official opening of this year’s Hong Kong International Tea Fair, Khawaja said Pakistan, which is the leading importer of Kenyan tea has annual consumption of 175 million kilogrammes.

"Out of the total consumption of tea in Pakistan, only about 100 million kilogrammes are imported from Kenya while the remaining finds its way through smuggling," he said.

Khawaja said the problem has affected the volume of tea imports from Kenya.

Landlocked

"Businessmen from Afghanistan are importing tea through our ports since they are landlocked, but they later smuggle it back to Pakistan thus distorting the volume of imports to Pakistan," he added.

The tea trade fair, which is the first ever event to be held in Hong Kong, has attracted 259 exhibitors among them three Kenyan companies. The Kenyan firms include James Finlays, One Touch Limited of Mombasa and Gold Crown Food (EPZ) Limited. Kenya Tea Board CEO, Sicily Kariuki told The Standard at Kenyan pavilion that falling exports was a source of concern.

Kariuki said Kenya’s tea export to Pakistan last year stood at 61.2 million kilogrammes compared to 79.8 million kilogrammes the previous year.

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