ISLAMABAD/Karachi – As part of its trade diplomacy efforts, the Ministry of Commerce has been actively engaged with its trading partners to improve exports and reduce trade deficit.
The Ministry of Commerce on Saturday said that for the first time Pakistan would be exporting white rice (non-Basmati) to Indonesia, as two Pakistani companies have secured an order of 65,000 metric tons, according to a press release issued by the ministry.
Indonesia recently granted unilateral trade concessions on 20 items to Pakistan. Unilateral concessions granted by Indonesia will formally be signed on January 26, during the visit of Indonesian President.
Pakistan had signed a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Indonesia in 2012, which became operational in the subsequent year. As a result, the bilateral trade witnessed a substantial increase but all in favour of Indonesia. Pakistan initiated a review of the PTA with Indonesia wherein besides making the agreement mutually beneficial, the issue of market access on rice was also taken up.
As a result, the two countries signed an MoU, which envisaged sourcing of rice from Pakistan. During the current week, Indonesia floated a tender for procurement of 500,000 metric tons of rice out of which 84,000 metric tons were to be sourced from South Asia. Due to hectic efforts and facilitation by the Ministry of Commerce and Mission at Jakarta, two Pakistani companies were able to participate in the bidding process in a short span of time.
The bids were finalized on 19th January 2018 and as a result the two companies from Pakistan have secured an order for 65,000 metric tons of white rice , out of the 84,000 metric tons allocated for South Asia. The rest was given to an Indian company. The Ministry of Commerce is hopeful that the breakthrough would prove to be a milestone in tapping the huge Indonesian white rice market.
Meanwhile, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan senior vice chairman Rafique Suleman has said that rice exports from Pakistan have seen significant growth in the first six months of the ongoing financial year.
While talking to reporters, he shared the half yearly (July to December) figures of rice exports. He said that a significant growth was observed in rice exports from the country for fiscal year 2017-18 (July to Dec 2017) as compared to same period of last fiscal year (2016-17). He said, “This year, we exported a total of 1.9 million metric tons of rice worth $881 million, whereas in last fiscal year we had exported 1.64 million metric tons of rice amounting to $682 million, which shows overall a significant growth of 29% in value and 15% in quantity.”
He was pleased to inform the media that Indonesia has also floated a tender for procurement of big quantity of rice and two Pakistani companies are also included in successful bidders. “I am very much hopeful that this year we will be able to achieve $2 billion rice export target by exporting more than 4.0 million metric tons of rice ,” he said. He said, “Kenya is the largest buyer of Pakistani rice and during half year of this fiscal year (July to Dec 2017) we have exported 240,000 metric tons of rice amounting to $85 million.” He stressed the need to focus on the issues and problems of rice exporters and urged the government to resolve them and make a strategy for betterment of rice exports in future.
He also showed his concern on decline in exports to China, which was the 2nd largest destination for Pakistani rice . He requested the government authorities concerned to take notice of the situation and take urgent measures and steps to improve the rice exports to China. He said, “Iran and Saudi Arabia are the major buyers of basmati rice and we are hopeful that after resolving the payment problem/banking channel with Iran, Pakistani basmati rice export , which was facing severe decline from last three years, will get a significant boost.”
He informed the media that this year demand of rice has increased in international market and rates of Pakistani rice are cheaper than our competitors, Thailand and Vietnam, adding that the international buyers are keeping an eye on Pakistan for its competitive rates. “We hope that this year we will see remarkable growth in Pakistani rice exports,” he said. He added that rice exporters are also putting extra ordinary efforts for fetching valuable foreign exchange for the country and making huge investment for installing world’s latest rice machinery and most modern technology for value-addition in rice .