LAHORE - Although there is lot of potential to increase the export of rice from Pakistan to China, yet it is presently limited due to quota restrictions in China.

This was stated in a letter written by the rice exporters simultaneously to Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Pakistan embassy in Beijing. The letter laid emphasis on more export of rice from Pakistan to China and requested the Pakistan envoy to raise the issue of enhancing rice import limit from Pakistan during the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Beijing.

Pakistani basmati rice is in great demand in China and Chinese exporters are willing to import more basmati rice from Pakistan, said a rice exporter. He said that the exporters have dispatched request to Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Pakistani envoy in Beijing to take the issue of enhancing quota limit for Pakistan from 0.5 million tons to 0.75 million tons for basmati rice. He underlined the need for initiating efforts to get enhanced quota from China to enhance export of basmati rice. Pakistan has exploited fully its 500,000 matric tons rice export quota to China, earning around $200 million and if this limit is exceeded to 750,000 tons the country can fetch more foreign exchange to narrow trade deficit, the exporters said. The Beijing has recently inked an agreement to import around 1 million ton rice from Thailand paying $30 per ton additional cost. If Pakistan govt convinces the Chinese authorities to raise rice import limit for Pakistan the Chinese buyers will also benefit, as their cost will be reduced significantly. Rice exporters noted that the balance of trade between Pakistan and Malaysia is tilted in favour of China for a long time and in order to narrow down the trade deficit, there is dire need for increasing export of non-traditional items as well as the existing items being exported to China. The response of Chinese importers for Pakistani rice is overwhelming as compared to rice imported from Thailand and Vietnam.

“Our rice industry is not showing its full potential due to some internal barriers related to planning and strategic implementations. Viewing the current scenario, rice exporters deserve the patronage of government at par with textile industry to develop rice export as one of the major foreign-exchange- earning sector. The embassy in Beijing should launch a concrete drive to market Pakistani rice in China by creating a personalized demand among Chinese people.”

The rice exporters are already exploring new techniques with China to improve the quality of rice. Chinese buyers prefer to buy the rice with good milling quality. Hence, the rice exporters want TDAP and commercial counselor in Beijing to manage match making of the Chinese and Pakistani entrepreneurs in this sector to increase the demand of Pakistani rice in China.

Meanwhile, the Rice Exporters Association central chairman Rafique Suleman said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to China would help Pakistan to bring Chinese investment worth billions of dollars in different sectors which would help strengthen the national economy.

He said that China, in response to current visit of Prime Minister, has announced substantial investment in Pakistan for further improving economic ties between the private sectors of the two countries besides enhancing volume of trade.

He said that Pakistan with Chinese investment would achieve sustained growth in key sectors, including increase in per capita income and improvement in micro-economic in the years to come.