Coca Cola Kabul being smuggled into Pakistan

Jalil Afridi

LAHORE: Gone are the days when consumer goods used to be dropped in Pakistan in garb of Transit Trade to Afghanistan and then sold in markets of Bara and Hayatabad in Peshawar at much cheaper rates than the rest of the country. Now time has come that goods are being smuggled into Pakistan from Afghanistan and one such item is the Coca Cola drink.Coca Cola established its plant in Afghanistan in 2007 and an Afghan billionaire named Habib Gulzar got the bottling franchise of Coca Cola in Kabul. It is a state of the art factory based in heart of Kabul.Coca Cola wanted to establish this plant in Kabul because they wanted to give Afghanistan an “American Touch” and that is why majority of the products (Sprite, Fanta, Coca Cola, Aquafina, Pulpy) produced in Coca Cola plant in Kabul are dispatched to the US Army bases located all over Afghanistan. The little left over stock is being sold in different markets of Afghanistan. Interestingly Coca Cola cans produced in Kabul plant reaches Torkham border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and then makes its entry into Pakistan. These cans are packed in cartoons and are carried everyday by the locals into Pakistan earning them meager amount.This interesting trade also shows that Coca Cola Kabul is producing better quality at cheaper rates thus attracting Pakistani businessmen/distributors import it into Pakistan and giving it market share of Coca Cola Pakistan and in the end making the Pakistani industry suffer.It should be noted that industrialists in Afghanistan are fully supported by their own government and the US government. These industrialists are provided with free land and almost no taxes are levied on them by the government.  This cooperation between the Afghan government and Afghan industrialists is to the extent that recently Afghanistan government increased import duty from 5% to 45%  on all sorts of drinks imported from Pakistan thus strengthening their own local industry. Uninterrupted electric supply is an added advantage to the Afghan industrialists.It is high time that Pakistani businessmen and the government start studying this development and take serious measures to save the interests of Pakistan.