Despite government crackdowns last year, smuggled tires of all sizes are now back in the market in Karachi. People often choose these cheaper smuggled tires, unaware of the risks involved, even though they are of lower quality.
Out of the 14.5 million tires sold annually in Pakistan, only 25 percent are domestically produced, 10 percent are legally imported, and the rest are smuggled.
Last year, the devaluation of the local currency against the US dollar led to a significant decrease in tire imports. Smuggled tires flooded the market to fill this gap.
The seriousness of the issue is evident as the Collectorate of Customs Enforcement (CCE) seized over 55,000 smuggled tires, mainly larger car sizes, worth Rs 540 million in Karachi last year.
Manufacturers and businesses are calling on the government to take action to stop tire smuggling, which harms local industries and costs the national treasury over Rs 70 billion annually.
Hussain Kuli Khan, CEO of GTR, emphasized the importance of protecting local industries, which create jobs, contribute taxes, and save foreign exchange. He highlighted that smuggled tires often arrive in poor condition, with torn beads and structures, posing safety risks. They are repaired with mechanical tools, reducing their lifespan and endangering public safety. Additionally, forged documents are used to make these tires appear legitimate.
Hussain suggested that the government reassess the data on items imported through Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) to ensure the number of tires imported aligns with Afghanistan’s vehicle population. Many items labeled as ATT are either offloaded in Karachi or smuggled back from the Afghan border, which needs to be addressed.”