Indian rice import under Most Favoured Nation to harm Pak trade

Karachi: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises UNISAME has invited the attention of Makhdoom Amin Fahim federal commerce minister to the negative effects of allowing import of Indian rice under most favoured nation MFN status given to India and placing rice on the positive list of imports.

President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said rice has been placed on the positive list and by virtue of this placement Pakistani importers can import rice from India and this placement on the positive list is causing a negative impact.

He said our policy makers are always wise after the event and never study and examine the pros and cons before taking important decisions and do not bother to consult the stakeholders on such important issues.

He said it is a well known fact that Pakistan and India are competitors in rice exports and in case of Basmati only Pakistan and India export basmati as no other country of the world is blessed with this variety.

Our rice is categorized as long grain rice as other producers of the world have medium grain, round grain and short grain. Only India and Pakistan have long grain rice and therefore again we are the only two countries having long grain rice.

He said Pakistani importers have started importing Indian rice although there is no shortage in Pakistan of either basmati or non basmati varieties but due to lack of comprehension our importers are attracted by the price difference and have diversified interest.

He said as Pakistan is catering to Afghanistan and Iran also through the unofficial land routes supported by the border tribes and a lot of the imported rice will find its way to Afghanistan and Iran but the burden of foreign exchange will be borne by Pakistan as it will be imported officially by Pakistan and paid for in valuable foreign exchange.

The SME exporters of rice have urged the commerce minister to consider the negative effects of the import of rice from India and shift the import of rice to the negative list to disallow import of rice into Pakistan from India and save the rice industry from negative effects in good time before Indian rice finds its way to neighbouring countries through Pakistan and disturbs our traditional markets.

The SME exporters have urged the commerce minister to pursue on priority the proposal of President Asif Ali Zardari for currency swap with Iran as India is taking over customers of Pakistani rice by accepting payments in Indian currency for import of Indian rice from Iranian importers whereas Pakistan is still mulling over the currency swap initiated by Pakistan and welcomed by Iran but merely due to undue influence from vested interest the matter has remained in doldrums.

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