Pakistan's customs authorities are refusing to clear around 100 containers of imported children's garments and shoes from China, Indonesia and Thailand because of an apparent shortfall in duty payments.

Importers are being asked to pay duties that are between 100% and 250% higher than previously calculated, based on the value of the shipments.

Traders say they used to pay a duty of PKR0.3m (US$4,950) per container, but that the authorities are now demanding PKR1m duty per container.

This has created a shortage of garments and shoes in the markets, with traders out new stock and prices up by 50-70%.

The problem is particularly acute with the approach of Eid, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

Although Pakistan is rich in cotton textiles, around 90% of children's garments are met through imports from China, Indonesia, Thailand, and other Far Eastern countries.

Shoe companies also prefer to source shoes from China due to cost factors.

By Ahmed Abdullah.