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May 07 - 13, 2001

Strategy on way to double rice exports: Dawood

Pakistan has adopted a new strategy to double rice exports from the present over $500 million to $1 billion, in four years.

This was stated by Abdul Razak Dawood, Pakistan's Minister for Commerce, Industries and Production, while addressing a press conference in Dubai on Monday. He is in Dubai to attend an international rice conference in which a 35-men delegation from Pakistan is participating.

He said the new strategy, in which the government plays the role of a facilitator, will restore the rice business in Pakistan, make it internationally competitive and increase the exports by 30 per cent in the next fiscal year.

Giving details, the minister said that a zoning system had been introduced for the cultivation of a Basmati rice in a specific area to protect and improve its quality, purity and price, adding that emphasis was being laid on packing and grading.

He said with the establishment of par boiled plants, Pakistan will regain the Saudi Arabian market of 800,000 tons lost to India.

He said that the Al Ghurair Group of Dubai had invested in rice milling in Pakistan. In addition, two new state-of-the-art milling units were being set up in the country, he said.

A delegation of Saudi Arabian businessmen would visit Pakistan in May on Export Promotion Board's invitation, he added. An international rice convention is being hosted by Pakistan in October, to introduce the developments taking place.

He said that a new variety of Basmati rice would be introduced in 2002, adding that the supply chain from the paddy to rice mills is required to be improved to cut down percentage of broken rice.

A quality review committee, he said, had been established to inspect all rice consignments.

Pakistan's rice exports this fiscal will be around $520 million, about $80 million less than the target, he said adding that generally Pakistani Basmati rice does not get the same high price as the Indian. Exports of rice to UAE this year would be around $105 million, at about the same level of last year.

Shaukat seeks market access to North

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz asked the developed countries to provide level-playing field and market access to the developing countries for their exports in order to help them get out of the "poverty trap."

Addressing a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Bretton Woods Institutions on Tuesday, Aziz appealed to the BWI's to allow fiscal space to build capacity and improve governance, which was essential to reduce poverty and end dependence of developing countries on foreign aid.

Aziz told the financial leaders of the world that reduction of poverty was a major issue for the entire developing world and it was not limited to the countries defined as Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and underscored that giving market and free trade access to the developing countries was the best way to fight poverty. He said the innumerable tariff barriers imposed by the developed world on exports from the developing countries should be removed emphasizing that if these barriers were removed then the developing countries would have a better chance to get out of the poverty trap.

Mango exports to Saudi Arabia

The export of mangoes can be increased to Saudi Arabia with the help of better presentation, proper grading and uniform packaging, says a report on Monday.

A report prepared by the commercial section of Pakistan Embassy in Jeddah said, Pakistan is ranked second in Saudi market after India and followed by Sudan.

The report said that Pakistan's share is estimated at 37 per cent to $6.4 million in Saudi mango market during 1999 while India exported mangoes worth $7.2 million with 42 per cent share.

The report pointed out that Pakistani mangoes enjoy a substantial share in Saudi Arabia and traditional consumers await the arrival of Pakistani variety.

Pakistan, Lanka review trade ties

The inaugural session of the 8th Pakistan- Sri Lanka Joint Economic Commission (JEC) held on Wednesday to review existing economic relations and discuss the prospects of enhanced bilateral trade between the two countries.

Sri Lankan minister for internal and international trade, commerce, shipping development and Muslim religious affairs, Rauf Hakeem and Abdul Razzak Dawood, minister for commerce, industries and production, co-chaired the inaugural session.

He said Pakistan ranks as the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in the region in terms of total trade turn-over and emphasized on tapping immense potential of co-operation in variety of fields in the economic sector by pursuing the diversification of existing trade exchanges.

Misuse of export finance

The State Bank has asked all banks to liquidate all remunerative (return earning) deposits created out of export refinance and repay the same to the central bank within three working days.

In a letter written to heads of all banks SBP has also advised them not to create fresh remunerative deposits out of the funds lent under the export finance scheme. SBP has warned all banks that violation of these directives would disqualify them from availing any refinance facility from the State Bank.

Vietnam, Pakistan pledge to boost economic ties

General Pervez Musharraf and Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong held talks and pledged to boost economic co-operation, officials said. Musharraf and the Vietnamese president expressed their "common desire" to strengthen relations, notably economic and trade links, officials added.