LAHORE: Subsidised Indian rice is damaging Pakistan’s exports and the government must take up the issue with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against New Delhi for “jeopardising international food security in violation of its rules,” a representative of local rice traders said on Thursday.
Pakistan rice exports, both Basmati and coarse varieties, during July 2020 to May 2021 (11MFY21) are 14 per cent less than that of the previous year. So far Pakistan has exported 3.3 million tonnes of rice in the 11MFY21 compared to 3.87m tonnes during the same period last year.
“India has offered its rice at an average rate of $360 per tonne while we have been quoting a price of $450 per tonne. This difference of around $100 per tonne has badly damaged our exports,” said Rice Exporters Association Pakistan President Abdul Qayyum Paracha.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Paracha said: “Under the WTO rules, flooding international markets with subsidised food, particularly rice, is an offence. Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam all are offering rice export prices at $420 to $430 per tonne then how India could offer the same at $360 per tonne?”Indian Basmati exports hit record volume as it has so far exported 4.3m tonnes of the commodity, he added.
The REAP president highlighted that Pakistan was not the only country hurt by heavily subsidised Indian rice exports. “Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal are all hit by the phenomenon,” he added.
Other factors affecting Pakistan’s rice exports included exorbitant rise in freight rates and ample stocks available with the destination countries imported during panic buying in view of one after another wave of coronavirus pandemic, said Mr Paracha while responding to a query.
“Two year ago, we had been paying $1,500 per container freight, for instance, for Italy. The same has now shot up to $8,000 per container — an increase of $250 per tonne.”
He demanded the government should raise the issue of India flooding foreign markets with subsidised exports and thereby jeopardising international food insecurity with the WTO at the earliest.
Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2021