LAHORE - The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) on Monday threatened to go on strike from January 15, if the government did not withdraw tender floated by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) for procurement of 300,000 tons of rice. "The TCP has floated a tender for procurement of 300,000 tons of basmati rice which will be opened on January 15. If this tender will not be withdrawn, exporters will be left with no other option but to go on strike," Vice-Chairman REAP Mian Haroon-ur-Rasheed told reporters while addressing a press conference here at a local hotel. Tariq Aziz, Masood Iqbal, Chaudhry Muhammad Din and Amjad Butt were also present on this occasion. Mian Haroon also demanded the government to keep Passco and TCP away from the rice trade. The exporters had established name and credibility of Pakistani rice in the international market after years long of hectic efforts with hardworking. The rice exporters feared that export of rice through TCP or Passco might meet the same fate, which was witnessed by the Rice Export Corporation of Pakistan (RECP), he said and added that rice business was very delicate and taking care of rice was also very complicated. He also criticised the untimely intervention of the Passco and said that the corporation jumped into the market at a time when sixty percent of the farmers had disposed off their produce. He also alleged that the Corporation signed an agreement with some 100 shellers to benefit some vested interests. He said that both the TCP and Passco had no infrastructure to export rice and any bid by them in this regard would result in loss of billions of rupees apart from earning bad named for Pakistani rice sector. The private sector started rice-exporting activity in early 90s when it was given export target of US 300 million dollars and the same private sector earned over US 2 billion dollars last year and till last six months of the current year, the export had achieved one billion US dollars. During the next six months, we are expecting over 1.5 billion US dollars rice exports, he added. However, Mian Haroon also claimed that the rice procured by the Passco was not up to the mark. Secondly, he said that one-year-old rice was exported and the rice procured by the Corporation was raw and needed processing before export. He also said that the price on which the Corporation and TCP was procuring rice plus the cost of processing as well as the financial cost of the loan taken by the Corporation for buying of rice would make it very expensive. He claimed that this year international market of rice had fallen. He further appealed to the President of Pakistan and Prime Minister to take serious notice of the situation to redress the grievances of the rice exporters and save the credibility of the rice-exporting sector.