LAHORE - The exports of rice from Pakistan to Kuwait are recording significant decline from the last few years. Country’s rice exports to Kuwait declined to 12,000 metric tons in 2014 from 30,000 tons of 2010, showing a fall of more than 60 per cent.

Although Kuwait owes huge potential for Pak rice exports but Pakistan lost its share since 2010 owing to neglected marketing, evolution of new basmati varieties, price instability and mainly imposition of visa restriction in 2011.

“The visa restriction limited our capacity to understand market trends and dynamics as well as the capacity to market our qualitative product, which ultimately created a trust deficit between suppliers and buyers,” said Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan chairman Shafique Ch.

Taking cognizance of decline in rice export to Kuwait, a 17-member trade delegation of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, under the leadership of its chairman Shafique Ch, visited Kuwait to have meetings with Kuwait Ministry of Commerce, Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Association of Pakistani Businessmen in Kuwait (APBK), trade bodies of Kuwait as well as officials of various chambers to explore prospects and demand of Pakistani rice. The delegation included senior and experienced rice exporters including Reap former SVC and GCCI president Samee Ullah Ch.

Shafique Ch, describing the major objective of the visit, said it was aimed at exploring and enhancing demand of Pakistani rice in the country having great future prospects for the quality Pakistani rice.

Kuwait is a very important market for Pakistani rice, which has been importing rice from India, Vietnam and Thailand etc. The trade between Pakistan and Kuwait is far less than the potential that both countries possess. “We need to focus on measures that could enhance our bilateral trade ties to new heights. Rice is one of the main potential sectors that should be focused in this context.”

Shafique Ch said that during this visit REAP delegation had fruitful meetings with rice importers so that Pakistan again takes a good share in Kuwait markets.

He also extended cordial thanks to Aslam Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to Kuwait, and Agha Saeed, First Secretary at Pakistan Embassy, and particularly the Association of Pakistani Businessmen in Kuwait (APBK) for the valuable efforts to make this visit a big success. APBK hosted a mega ‘Baryani’ festival to attract hundreds of businessmen, creating awareness about the importance of Pakistani high quality rice.

GCCI president Samee Ullah Ch said, “We would like to grow our mutual trade on stronger footing with our brotherly country. A liberal visa policy for businessmen of Pakistan would ensure increase in our bilateral trade. The exchange of trade delegations will establish diversified B to B contacts between both the countries businessmen and will identify the areas of mutual interest in trade and investment.”

REAP’d former SVC said that friendship of Pakistan and Kuwait is time tested and trusted. He was hopeful that this visit will produce fruitful results for the betterment of rice exports from Pakistan. The delegation expressed its view that the existing trade volume is still below the potential.