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Jan 22 - 28, 2001

Wheat export to Baghdad, Kabul, Tehran targetted

The government is targetting Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan to export 800,000 tons of wheat this year, out of one million ton surplus from the stocks.

Negotiations with Iraq are in the final stages and the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) which is the exporting agency expects the finalization of shipment arrangements very soon.

The government has already allocated 300,000 tons of wheat for export to Iraq. Pakistan is striving hard to sell around 800,000 tons of wheat 300,000 each to Iraq and Afghanistan and 200,000 tons to Iran out of surplus of one million tons of wheat.

"Our Ambassador in Iraq is negotiating with Iraqi government to sell the surplus wheat from Pakistan," Chairman TCP, Masood Alam Rizvi told on Thursday.

"Iraq requires wheat quality that contains 26 per cent vet gluten and we have sent six samples report of wheat a week back out of which five samples met the requirement of Iraq," he said.

TCP has also asked the ministry of food, agriculture and livestock (MINFAL) to further provide details about the wheat qualities which contain vet gluten.

Selling wheat to foreign buyers is really difficult as every country demands quality as per their peoples' preference. "This is a handicap in wheat to reveal the variety as compared to rice," he said.

"We may face some problems in the first year to sell surplus wheat due to identification of variety. Things will improve next year when we will be able to know proper quality requirements of each country," Rizvi said.

He said Pakistan is currently competing with South America, Canada, Australia and India in the global market.

On refusal of rice deal with Iran, he said that actually Iran has agreed to buy wheat from Thailand and Vietnam.

Export finance rate up by 1pc

The State Bank has raised export finance rate from 8 to 9 per cent from Tuesday to meet a key IMF condition tagged with its $596 million standby credit programme.

A SBP circular issued to all banks said banks would charge a maximum of 9 per cent interest rate from all eligible exporters save those engaged in bleached or unbleached cloth's export: they would continue to get export finance at 11 per cent.

"It is like one more nail in the coffin," said Majyd Aziz, a former chairman of SITE Association of Industry.

"The authorities have already said that the export target of ten billion dollars is over-ambitious. After increase in export finance rate we might not even reach nine billion dollars mark," he said.

Garment exports fall

Pakistan's exports of garments to Saudi Arabia has declined by more than 33 per cent from 21 million Saudi Riyal in 1997 to 14 million Saudi Riyal in 1999, says a report by EPB on Tuesday.

The report said that there was a bright prospect for increasing this share if Pakistani exporters supply quality and design garments to this market.

Saudi Arabia is a big market for readymade garments. There are two major consumer segments of the garments in Saudi Arabia. One segment is local population and foreign workers in the Kingdom.

The second is pilgrims traffic which is always six to seven million per annum.

Rice exporters under pressure

Unlike the previous year, rice is not the victim of production glut. On an average, three rice loaders remain lying at the port loading the commodity.

The outflow is fairly steady as there appears to be a virtual war at the wharves to meet the shipment deadlines.

Both the KPT and the customs are at work round the clock, judiciously trying to facilitate speedy outflow of the export goods under the 'one window' operations.

Tea consumption at Rs12.7 billion

Pakistan annual tea import bill has swelled to $220m (approximately Rs12.76 billion), a massive figure viewed in the backdrop of meagre foreign exchange reserves of $1.2bn and matching exports of some primary commodities to compensate for the trade losses.

Many may not readily believe that the annual consumption figure of tea has already touched the high mark of 100,000 tonnes and market sale projections are that an annual total could rise to 500,000 tonnes, during the next decade based on the current rate of increase.

Railways wagons to Sri Lanka

Pakistan Railways has completed the execution of export order from Sri Lanka for supply of 40 covered bogie freight wagons and the last consignment of 26 wagons was loaded on Tuesday at Karachi, aboard a PNSC Ship MV Sibi.

The export order was fetched by Pakistan Railways Advisory and Consultancy Services (PRACS), a subsidiary of Pakistan Railways. The order was executed against a $5 million credit line, offered by Pakistan to Sri Lanka for purchase of engineering goods. From this amount, $3 million were utilized in manufacture and export of 40 freight bogie.

France seeks Pakistani fruit

French government has asked Pakistan to form a large export group comprising big reputable local businessmen, who can ensure large and regular supplies of fruits to Paris.

France has emphasized Islamabad to immediately bring about improvements essentially in its fruit quality control, grading, and packing system for the promotion of export of agriculture products to foreign countries.

Govt slaps punitive duties on imports

All imported products, which enjoy subsidy of up to three per cent of the actual cost from the exporting country, have been subjected to countervailing duties on arrival in Pakistan.

The subsidy rate for imposition of duty is one per cent for goods imported from developed countries, two per cent for the developing countries and three per cent for the least-developed countries (LDCs).