LAHORE  - Pakistan will sign deal of currency swap arrangements with Iran for smooth rice export which is halted since the United States has put economic sanctions on Iran.

This was stated by State Minister for Commerce & Privatization Khurram Dastgir Khan on Sunday while addressing the annual dinner of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan. He also declared that REAP would be given representation on the board of the Export Development Fund (EDF) from next year.

Khurram Dastgir observed that there is an urgent need to ensure sustained growth through value-addition and induction of latest technologies to produce quality goods. But for this flow of new investment would be needed.

Khurram Dastgir said that the PML-N government has not come into power to rule, but to be partner of traders in economic growth so that much needed relief is ensured to masses who had been suffering for a long.

The minister said that for achieving these goals, entire government direction will have to be changed. Therefore future policies and structural changes would be framed on the basis of partnership and with the consultation of business community.

The minister said that it was the commitment of the PML-N government to bring prosperity and provide relief to masses through economic growth for which necessary changes in laws would be introduced and also bureaucratic snags would be removed so that exports are doubled within a period of two years.

REAP central chairman Ch Masood Iqbal addressing the meeting said that members contribute $20 million to govt through taxes which includes $5 million in the form of Export Development Surcharge. While, there lags basic infrastructure facilities like Technical Training Institute to provide skilled manpower to Rice industry, Lack of R&D on Seed Development which may bring higher production yields & commercial viability for farmers, lack of paddy drying & storage facilities to avoid mytoxins, no-availability of globally accredited labs to ascertain conformance to food safety standards and authentication (Basmati).

REAP Chairman also demanded that association should be given representation on the board of the Export Development Fund (EDF) as its members contribute $5 million in form of export development surcharge. He also urged the government to make it binding on commercial counselors to meet REAP high ups prior to their appointment in foreign offices to draw a strategy for enhancing rice exports in their respective country of appointment.

He said Pakistan and Iran official trade is at halt since the United States has put economic sanctions on Iran. Banks in Pakistan are no more opening letter of credits for goods to Iran, adding that India is having no such issues with Iran and having good trade ties at the state level. We need to have Currency Swap Arrangements or Barter Trade Arrangement/LC Transaction Arrangement with Iran. He said the volume of Pakistan rice is stagnant to 6 million tons over past 5-years and crop has not increased while the local consumption has also increased therefore are remained with less crop each year to export. He called for developing R&D for higher acre yields.