LAHORE - German Ambassador to Pakistan Ms Ina Lepel has asked the rice exporters to play role in promoting bilateral trade and hence further strengthening economic ties with Germany.

Addressing members of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) on Wednesday, Ina said there was a great need for diversifying the two-way trade, as $2.3 billion trade volume recorded in 2014 was not up to the real potential both countries had.

“We have good economic relations but there is more room to further enhance these relations,” the ambassador said, adding, “Germany has more strong trade relations with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Malaysia as compared to Pakistan.”

She added that Germany had financially supported major hydropower projects and also the up-gradation of distribution system in Pakistan.

She said that Germany was currently focusing on renewable energies and energy efficiency in Pakistan. “The German Embassy is working with the Pakistani business community to strengthen business institutions,” the ambassador told REAP members.

Ina hoped the granting of licence to Pakistan-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry would further improve bilateral trade and economic relations.

She urged the exporters to pay attention to organic rice export, as Germans were very conscious about nutrition and health.

REAP Chairman Chaudhry Muhammad Shafique, in his address, said that in 2012-13, Pakistan exported 127,953 metric tonnes of Basmati and non-basmati rice varieties to the EU countries, which came to $111.812 million, while the current export to the EU countries stood at 206,000 metric tonnes per annum.

“In 2013-14, Pakistan’s exports to Germany were recorded at 9393 metric tonnes, which rose to 11,986 metric tonnes in 2014-15,” he informed.

He requested the German ambassador to relax visa policy for genuine businessman so that rice exports to Germany could be increased.

Shafique pointed out that developing countries were the largest rice producers as well as exporters and accounted for more than 80 percent of the world’s rice export.

“Especially, the Southeast Asian countries dominate the industry because of their diverse varieties and best quality of rice,” he informed.

He said since rice was an important staple food that was why it was mostly consumed in the country where it was cultivated, and less than 8 percent of that production was traded internationally.

“REAP has an incredible track record of earning $2 billion for the fourth consecutive year,” REAP chairman said, adding, “Different varieties of rice were grown in Pakistan such as Super Basmati, 1121 Kinat, Basmati PK-385, Irri-6, Irri-9 and KS-282 extra-long grain rice and PK-386.” 

He said Pakistan was known for its aromatic rice (Super Basmati/Basmati PK-385).

“While Punjab has abundant Basmati Rice, Sindh, on the other hand, has the Irri varieties,” Shafique informed.

He added that currently Pakistan was the world’s fourth largest exporter of rice, with an annual production of more than 7 million tonnes, out of which 4 million tonnes were exported around the world; hence capturing around 15 percent of world’s total rice trade.