KARACHI: Members of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) have decided to open their offices in Tehran and Mashhad in a bid to increase exports to 600,000 to 700,000 tons to Iran – the top Basmati rice importer in the world.
With the help of the Ministry of Commerce, the REAP members will invite Iranian rice importers to Pakistan for business-to-business meetings to increase rice trade between the two neighbours, according to a press release.
The decision has been taken after a REAP delegation visited Iran and met rice importers with the assistance of Pakistan’s diplomatic mission in Tehran. The meetings have proved successful and rice exporters expect to get new orders.
However, in a seminar organised recently by REAP at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, leading bankers pointed out that the State Bank of Pakistan had yet to remove all hurdles in the way of establishing banking links with Iran.
Since the efforts to open offices in Iran have the backing of the Pakistan government and the Ministry of Commerce, exporters say they are hopeful of getting new business from Iran.
Pakistan, which used to be the top rice exporter to Iran, has seen a significant decline in its share in the last two years because of the tightening of international sanctions on Tehran.
Iran annually imports more than $2 billion worth of rice. Pakistan’s share is negligible as it exported 2,234 tons in fiscal year 2015, fetching just $1.32 million.
Exporters say India has replaced Pakistan in Iranian rice markets because of better government-to-government arrangements for trade payments.
Source: The Express Tribune