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LAHORE: The Federal Ministry of Commerce in consultation with the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has set rice export target for the financial year 2021-22 at $2.5 billion.

The target was enhanced as compared to last year when the rice exports fetched only $2 billion, while the same showed improvement in September 2021 both for Basmati and non-Basmati in spite of stiff competition with India and 10 times increase in ocean freight for break bulk and containerized cargo.

The decision to this effect was taken in a meeting chaired by Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood with the REAP representatives led by its chairman Ali Hussam Asghar.

Exporters explained that Pakistan is expecting a bumper rice crop this year and there is a need to work on barter trade agreement with Iran, which is one of the major markets of Basmati Rice. They said this market has not been fully explored due to non-availability of proper payment mechanism.

The REAP Chairman requested constitution of a working group comprising REAP, LPG association, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) and National Bank of Pakistan to look into possibility of coming up with a barter trade mechanism.

Ali Hussam Asghar claimed rice exports can immediately jump by $300 million provided a ‘special purpose vehicle’ for barter trade with Iran is formed.

PM Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood expressed his agreement for supporting the REAP idea of holding ‘international buyers awards’ in Dubai. However, he advised the association to hold the said event at Pakistan Pavilion on the sidelines of Dubai Expo and agreed to host the event by MINCOM.

Dawood also agreed to support the rice exporters in holding ‘Biryani festivals’ for promotion of rice trade in Saudi Arabia, Australia, UK, France, Malaysia and Iran.

Ali Hussam Asghar, while sharing the meeting details told Business Recorder on Wednesday, said the meeting was arranged so that the industry leader could take up various issues which confront the sector development. He said exporters urged the government to issue notification of ‘Industry Status’ for the sector at the earliest, engaging trade investment officers/commercial counselors to provide market intelligence reports of all rice importing countries to access rice importers data of Indian and Thai origin rice in respective countries.

The Association also urged the Ministry of Commerce for arranging joint meetings of REAP, SBP and all commercial bank representative for enhancing credit limit to rice sector to meet their working capital requirement. It said that rice exporters were facing duty issues in Africa which act as non-tariff barriers. It said the ministry should sit across REAP representatives for drafting a proposal to take up with respective African governments to lower duties.

To meet the enhanced rice export target, the REAP chairman also proposed for holding buyers-sellers zoom meetings by the Pakistani commercial counselors posted abroad, inviting top international buyers to Pakistan to visit and see the rice processing plants, which have state-of-the-art rice machinery and heavily invested in BMR, arranging farmers meetings under TDAP-MinCom-REAP banner for creating awareness among the growers about high moister/MRL (minimum residue level) of pesticides so as EU complaint products could be produced.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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