Government move to address concerns of rice farmers, exporters praised

Karachi: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Tuesday lauded the government for taking steps aimed at addressing the genuine concerns of rice farmers and exporters.

The concerns of growers, exporters and other stakeholders came to limelight following the decision of the government to liberalise the import of agricultural products from India.

Trade liberalisation could have resulted in onslaught of cheap rice from India hurting local sector which is employing millions and generating around two billion dollars per annum for country, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that Pakistan is following free market economy rules in rice trade while India is heavily subsidising many agricultural products including rice.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that India agricultural subsidies surpass USD 30 billion while subsidies in Pakistan are said to be around 500 million dollars.

Keeping the situation in view, the Commerce ministry has taken all the stakeholders on board and proposals are being finalised which would be soon sent to National Tariff Commission to impose countervailing duty on Indian rice.

Such a decision will mitigate the negative effect of import of Indian rice in Pakistan and ensure level playing field for all stakeholders, Dr. Murtaza Mughal observed.

Earlier, government had refused to include Indian rice varieties in the negative list despite several requests from concerned quarters which resulted in uncertainty among rice stakeholders, he said.

Pakistan rice sector needs government support to survive and retain their share in markets of Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, and some other destinations, he said.

It is unlikely that India, despite criticism by World Bank and other bodies, would withdraw subsidies reaching to 14 per cent of GDP.

Similarly, Pakistan has no plans to pay any grants to farmers or ensure provision of inputs like fertiliser, diesel, and electricity on rates matching that of India, therefore every facet of trade liberalisation needs thorough study, he demanded.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Murtaza Mughal
Pakistan Economy Watch
402, 4th Floor, Gulistan Khan House, Fazal-e-Haq Road,
82-East, Blue Area, Islamabad
Tel: +9251 251 0375
Fax: +9251 280 2449
Cell: +92321 515 7671

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