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ISLAMABAD: The government has suspended import conditions for certain categories of timber and wood till March 31, 2023 on the request of All Pakistan Timber Traders Association (APTTA), sources close to Secretary Commerce told Business Recorder.

Sharing the details, sources said, the conditions for import of plant and plants materials including timber/ wood had been incorporated in Part-IV of Appendix-B, Import Policy Order (IPO) 2022 on the recommendations of Department of Plant Protection (DPP) of Ministry of National Food Security & Research.

The conditions were (i) Import Permit (IP) issued by DPP, (ii) SPS certificate issued by National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) of the exporting country, and (iii) Plant Protection Release Order (PPRO) issued by DPP.

According to Commerce Ministry, Karachi Timber Merchant Group had approached Commerce Ministry requesting to extend the date of implementation of conditions of import permit and plant protection release order for the import of timber and wood falling under PCT Codes 44.01 to 44.09, as provided under Sr. Nos. 385 to 44O of Part-IV of Appendix-B, IPO 2022.

The sources explained that the conditions could not be met for the already arrived shipments because those consignments were supplied against contracts entered into months ago. Consequently, the Federal Government, in light of the decision of ECC of the Cabinet and its subsequent ratification by the Cabinet, suspended operation of Import Policy provisions contained in Sr. No. 386 to 44O of Part-IV, of Appendix-B, Import Policy Order 2022 from the date of issuance of IPO, 2022 to August31, 2022.

Timber, wood: Import conditions under IPO suspended

All Pakistan Timber Traders Association had again approached the Ministry with the request to suspend the import conditions and restrictions on wood and timber in tariff classes 44.01to 44.09 for all the “Bills of Lading issued until June 30, 2023”. The APTTA argued that any decision made in haste would destroy the entire wood business sector (H.S Code 44.01 to 44.09) causing damage to a large number of industries that rely on wood as a basic raw material including the construction industry which was connected to 45 to 50 other industries.

Ministry of Commerce maintained that in order to facilitate the import of wood/ timber, it is requesting the government to direct the DPP to review the conditions for import of wood and timber and bring them in conformity with the international best practices so that the import of wood and timber was not subjected to unnecessary and cumbersome procedures.

Ministry has proposed that the date of implementation of IPO 2022 regarding import of timber and wood falling under HS Codes 4401 to 4409 (Sr. Nos. 386 to 440 of Part-IV, Appendix-B, IPO 2022) may be suspended till June 30, 2023, i.e., for the Bills of Lading issued till June 30, 2023 or formulation of the procedure by the DPP whichever is earlier.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R) supported the proposal; however, with the condition that no further exemption would be supported after June 30, 2023 and that the import condition in Import Policy Order and Plant Quarantine Act, 1976 and Plant Quarantine Rules, 2019 would be enforced in letter and spirit after 30 June, 2023. It further required that the importers of timber should be advised to plan future imports, accordingly.

The sources said the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet recently approved the proposal of Commerce Ministry and decided that the date of implementation of IPO 2022 regarding import of timber and wood falling under HS Codes 4401 to 4409 (Sr. Nos. 386 to 440 of Part-IV, Appendix-B, IPO 2022) shall be suspended till March 31, 2023.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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