ACC Expresses its Objection on Stopping of Medicinal Plants Exports by NEPA

ACCI expressed its objection on new decision of National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) over stopping of medicinal plants exports through a press conference in participating number of exporters on 24 April, 2013 in ACCI’s Headquarter.

ACCI says that the decision is unfair, irresponsibly and will harm Afghanistan’s export sector and also will cause medicinal plants smuggling to abroad.

On 22 December, 2012, NEPA has sent an official letter to respective entities that prevent medicinal plants export to abroad, unless taking permission from the agency. Otherwise, offender traders will be responsible to justice according 70 and 71 articles of Environmental Protection Law.

NEPA has done the decision suddenly without considering a deadline, without coordination and advice with respective entities like Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and ACCI and also without economic consequences.

Currently, there are lots of these kind medicinal plants are held up in companies’ storages and customs and are being polluted. Additionally, Afghan exporters have to stand over their contracts with foreign companies on medicinal plants deals.

Mr. Khan Jan Alkozay, First Vice-Chairman of ACCI said that Afghan government sometime makes decision without considering economic consequences. “The new decision absolutely will cause rising of prices, will provide context of corruption and also will cause smuggling of commodities to broad”. He said

He also drew decision makers’ attention to negative balance of exports and imports of the country and there is a need to taking useful measurements to support domestic manufactures and exports. Currently, Afghanistan imports around USD 7 billion and exports only USD 400 million.

Haji Hassan, Head of National Exporters’ Union also said that Afghan government’s slogan is support domestic manufactures and exports. But what does the decision mean? “Whether it is not so better to take good measurements to support national goods and exports and increase revenue of government, instead of requesting helps from international community?” he said

He also highlighted traders get license from one entity such AISA and in fact they are responsible to the entity only. So what is role of NEPA at this regard and the traders have to responsible to how many entities?

NEPA claims that harvesting medicinal plants will harm soil, will cause naturally growth reduction of the plants and also will harm environment. Whereas, farmers and exporters do believe that these kind plants have long roots into soil and have to be picked up periodically. If it is not done, stems of the plants are dried. Additionally, medicinal plants business is one of major income sources of rural economy and absolutely stopping up the business will cause unemployment.

The NEPA’s decision also has been objected by MoCI and National Economy Commission of Upper House of Parliament and both entities have sent separate letters to NEPA to revise its decision and allow re-export of medicinal plants.

ACCI does believe that NEPA has to make a decision in coordinating with relative entities and also in considering abovementioned reasons that don’t harm rural economy as well as the country’s exports.

Medicinal plants are major export goods of Afghanistan. These plants are growing at north especially in Badakhshan Province, at west in Herat Province and also at east and south of Afghanistan. Annually, the country exports the plants in value of USD 80 million to India, USA, China, Italy, Netherland, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Central Asia and Middle East countries.

Another problem was mentioned in the press conference that is, Afghan government has no specific transit agreement with neighboring countries especially with Uzbekistan. That manner sometime harms exports and cause that Afghan goods don’t arrive to overseas markets on time. For example; Afghan exporters needed to export black raisin to Russia on 2013 New Year season, but due to Afghanistan does not have a specific transit agreement with Uzbekistan to use railway of the country, there has been only way to transfer their commodities by ships, therefore, the raisin didn’t arrive to Russian markets at the time and the traders lost. This case shows that Afghan government does not pay attention to traders and what challenges they face?