Pakistani growers oppose basmati rice export to India

January 23rd, 2012 - 6:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Jan 23 (IANS) Pakistani rice growers have opposed basmati rice exports to India, saying this will give an upper hand to their main competitors in determining basmati’s international price and also allow them to re-export it under an Indian brand.

“There is a big difference in the cost of production of basmati rice in both countries. India subsidises its agriculture to the tune of $30 billion, while in Pakistan there is 16 percent general sales tax (GST) on all inputs along with the recently imposed gas infrastructure cess,” Basmati Growers’ Association chief Hamid Malhi said Sunday.

The issue has re-emerged after the government recently decided to liberalise trade with India, the daily Dawn reported Monday.

Pakistan had granted India the most favoured nation (MFN) status Nov 2. It also agreed to double bilateral trade from $2.5 billion to around $5 billion. India had granted the MFN status to Pakistan in 1996.

Malhi said the price of urea, one of the main fertilisers used in rice production, was nearly two times more in Pakistan than what it is in India.

He said it was a known fact that basmati exported from Pakistan was re-packed in the Gulf by traders and sold as a product of Indian origin. Both sides have been locked in a litigation over the ownership of the Super Basmati brand since 2008.

According to the figures for 2010-11, 45 percent of the country’s basmati exports (445,000 tonnes) land in the Gulf states.

“It is not possible that the whole quantity is being consumed in the region,” he said.

The opposition comes after the recent meetings of a select group of exporters, who monopolise the rice export, with Pakistan’s Trade Development Authority chief executive Tariq Puri, seeking facilitation of basmati export to India, the newspaper said.

Malhi said India also exported basmati rice to the Gulf and was the only competitor of Pakistan in the field. He expressed the apprehension that sale of basmati rice to India would provide it an upper hand in determining the international price of the product and low quality exports from India would continue to be dubbed as being of Pakistani origin.

Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma is scheduled to visit Pakistan Feb 13.

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