KARACHI - The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) has invited the attention of SM Munir chief executive officer (CEO) of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to the favoritism in the quota system of rice in Sri Lankan Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
It has been observed that TDAP did not update the website and when an exporter goes with Bill of Landing to TDAP , the exporter is informed that quota is already allotted and the website is not updated unfortunately. The TDAP then uses quota for their favoured exporters.
It has deprived the SME exporters of their right to obtain a share in the 6000 metric tons annual quota and urged the CEO to ensure transparency and merit in allocation with fairness.
The essence and spirit of the Sri Lankan FTA is to benefit the SME importers and exporters in both the countries to accommodate several SME exporters in Pakistan and several SME importers in Sri Lanka.  It never intended one big exporter to export 2600 metric tons to Sri Lanka and on the other side one big importer to import 2600 metric tons in this manner and defeat the very purpose of the agreement. He said the union has received a complaint and pointed out that the requirement is that the cargo has to be on board the vessel to qualify for the quota on first come first served basis but unfortunately this system has not been observed and a big exporter was obliged in haste to accommodate the applicant who it is reported obtained the bill of lading (BL) from the shipping company.
The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and TDAP evolved a joint policy that the quota would be issued only on presentation of BL and cargo shipped on board the vessel.
Unfortunately all of a sudden, a big exporter dispatched 2600 MTons of rice to Karachi Port. The very next morning, TDAP issued in newspaper that the quota procedure is as usual on presentation of BL on first come first served basis rejecting REAP’s negotiation and setting aside REAP’s suggestions. The big exporter presented a BL whose vessel had not departed and collected the BL in advance. The TDAP issued the quota to the big exporter for reasons best known to them.
It would be in the interest of all rice exporters if the matter is re-examined and decided accordingly and a proper system is developed with transparency and the system of first come first served is observed on merit.