LAHORE - When Pakistan is already losing export orders from its major traditional buyers like UAE and Iran due to tough competition with India, Kenya- a major buyer of Pakistani long grain rice is planning to enhance import duty from 35 per cent to 75 per cent to restrict Pakistan rice entry through tariff barriers.

Market sources said that the non-basmati rice export from Pakistan to Kenya has already declined to 293,691 tons during July 2012 to April 2013 from 385,513 tons during last fiscal year while basmati rice export has dropped to just 6,437 tons during July 2012 to April 2013 as opposed to 9,568 tons in last fiscal year. Increasing duty on imports of rice in Kenya, from 35pc to 75pc, means restricting Pakistani rice by a tariff barrier in the times when trade balance is already in Kenyan favour due to high imports of tea in Pakistan from Kenya.

“Restricting imports of Rice through increased import tariff means shifting the trade balance further to Kenya’s favour and endangering the livelihood of Pakistan farmers by snatching market from our rice exporters added.

“Nothing is being done by Ministry of Commerce and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) at this juncture when the country’s precious exports are already declining”, they said.

They said that Pakistan can easily influence Kenya to allow its rice import on existing tariff as it is the second largest importer of Kenyan tea, the leading rice exporter said. Kenya is a critical market for our rice exporters as it is considered as open market and remains available to them round the year.

Conventionally, Pakistan is one of the largest importers of tea from Kenya and trade relationship between Pakistan & Kenya is on a good note. This measure of restricting rice imports may hamper the bilateral relationship that has been crafted over years through diligence & Economic Co-operation. We have some troubled areas before but those have been sorted out very amicably and I believe that this time again, the Kenyan Authorities would understand the importance of Relationship & would take all measures possible to keep the Current Duty Regime intact.

The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Vice Chairman Samee Ullah Ch observed that over all rice exports from Pakistan have adopted a sharp declining trend as Rice exports have reduced by 7 per cent (Basmati Rice with 42% decline & Non-basmati rice with 5% Increase) in 2012-13 as compared to the same period last fiscal year due to multiple reasons including severe power breakdowns, continued gas supply suspension & Higher Pricing.

He demanded the government to approach the Kenyan authorities to avoid imposing such decision, halting rice imports from Pakistan, which is already facing a sharp decline. He said that Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Nairobi, Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui, and Dr. Amir is struggling hard for smooth exports from Pakistan but there is no progress seen as yet.