With the expected normalisation of trade between India and Pakistan, Indian rice exporters, who have started visiting Pakistan, are not only assessing the market here but also eyeing re-export of the Indian commodity to Central Asian states. In the present price of rice which is slightly higher than the Indian commodity, the visiting Indian exporters are found searching more for ways to tap other markets in the region, said a Pakistani rice exporter.
Being competitive in the international market, Indian rice especially Basmati could capture more markets in Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries. “As the price of Pakistani commodity is comparatively higher than the same of India, our products face stiff competition in the international market,” he said.
Many exporters of rice from India, who visited Pakistan during the last few months, have, however, not stuck any deal with Pakistani firms except inspecting and making survey of the local market. “This is because of the sense of uncertainty/fear which still exists between the two neighbours,” he added. “Export of rice to India from Pakistan was presently unlikely because of the difference in prices amidst the subsidy/other incentives the growers in India enjoy from government,” he said adding the facility for growers here, however, was in terms of exemption from taxes as the Indian growers pay taxes to their government.
According to sources, Pakistan was offering the product at 450 dollars per metric tonne, while India at 420 dollars per metric tonne. Because of the difference in price various consumers of Basmati rice in the world were approaching Vietnam and India. Kenya and UAE were also looking towards India and Vietnam for import of Basmati rice because of high priced rice in Pakistan.
Pakistan as an alternate market was now focusing on China, which was interested in long grain 386 Rice rather than Basmati grade. China purchased 0.36 million tonnes rice from Pakistan for the first time in the fiscal year 2011-12. Comparing exports volume to China with other major markets, Pakistan exported 0.39 million tonnes to Kenya, 0.33 million tonnes to United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 0.14 million tonnes to Iran.
India exports more than two million MT of Basmati rice to over 100 countries across the globe. Basmati is the single largest agro product exported from India, valued at about 2.5 billion dollars. Indian Basmati has gained greater recognition for its quality in the world market and the country has recently been successful in expanding export of this unique aromatic rice to new markets including Africa, Europe Latin America, Oceania and Central Asian regions. Indian government now eyes to double overall exports by year 2014, through a special focus on employment intensive sector agri-exports for which the export target has been set at 22 billion dollars.