ISLAMABAD – Qatar has lifted ban on the import of rice from Pakistan that would provide additional US $ 40-50 million of rice exports to Qatar.During visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Qatar on 21-22 January 2019, the Qatari government has finally agreed to include Pakistan-origin rice in the tender documents of the Central Tendering Committee which falls directly under the purview of Qatar’s Ministry of Economy & Commerce.
As a viable solution a third-party inspection for supply of rice through CTC tenders and to take strict action against those found involved in supplying substandard rice in future will be offered to ensure that quality rice are being exported to Qatar. The lifting of ban is expected to provide additional US $ 40-50 million of rice exports to Qatar if quality is maintained. Qatar annually imports 200,000 tonnes of rice.
Over the years, rice has been Pakistan’s major export product to Qatar. The exports were 80 to 100 thousand tonnes of rice per annum worth US $ 80-90 million upto 2010-11, which has dropped to US $ 20-25 million per annum (21,000 tonnes) in last five years. Whereas, the private sector in Qatar continued to import rice from Pakistan, the Central Tendering Committee (CTC), Government of Qatar which procures for state-supplied subsidized rice for Qatari citizens made its tender Indian-origin specific thereby effectively, banning the import of any other origin rice including Pakistani rice into Qatar in 2011-12.
The CTC issues tenders after every two months for supply of more than 5000 MT of high-quality rice to the government of Qatar and the Pakistani origin rice has been excluded from these tenders. Therefore, Pakistani exporters/suppliers have been deprived of supplying of about 30000 to 40000 MT good quality rice to Qatar per annum. Reportedly, the main reason for this change was the sub-standard and low-quality Pakistani rice supplied by the exporters against the government tenders in 2011-12. The Indian rice exporters were the ultimate beneficiaries of this situation and Indian rice exports to Qatar reached to 142,000 tonnes in 2017 from 18,774 tonnes in 2011.
The Advisor on Commerce, Textile, Industries & Production and Investment Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood stated that the Government intends to take export to the highest level ever. The Government is taking different measures for export enhancement including reclaiming traditional markets besides accessing to new markets. One of the initiatives is to manage removal of restrictions on Pakistani products in foreign markets. Removal of restriction by Qatar on Pakistani rice export is a step in this direction that will reclaim Pakistan’s share in the global rice market.