EghtesadOnline: A 16-member delegation of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan has left for Iran to explore trade and investment opportunities in general and enhance rice export to the neighboring country in particular.
The delegation, led by REAP Chairman Samee Ullah Naeem, will visit Tehran as well as the city of Mashhad where it will have meetings with representatives of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines and Mashhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pakistani newspaper The Nation reported on Tuesday.
The delegation will have meetings with the officials of Health Ministry regarding good manufacturing practices, Industries Ministry and Government Trading Corporation of Iran for buying Pakistani rice through government tenders. The delegation will be hosted by Iranian Rice Importers Association.
GTC is an Iranian government-owned company specializing in the purchase, import and distribution of essential foodstuff. It is the lever for enforcing market controls. The company is also in charge of maintaining a supply of wheat, rice, cooking oil and meat, as the country’s strategic reserve of essential commodities, Financial Tribune reported.
The deliberations are aimed at increasing bilateral trade and investment between the two friendly countries.
The REAP chairman said the association would discuss issues related to the resumption of rice exports, which nosedived after international nuclear sanctions against Iran, from Pakistan, implementation of currency swap agreement and the condition of GMP certification with Iranian authorities.
Naeem said Iran used to be a 800,000-ton basmati rice market until sanctions were imposed in 2010 and exports have drastically reduced to barely 60,000 tons.
“REAP considers unavailability of banking channel the only barrier for drop in trade,” he added.
Talks between the leading businessmen and industrialists are meant to inspire Iranian importers as well as investors to explore the business opportunities in Pakistan, and foster new profitable ventures.
The REAP members will invite Iranians to visit Pakistan where the association could arrange B2B meetings with progressive business groups to seek fresh collaborative ventures.
The Pakistan exporters’ team will also hold meetings with GTC to raise the issue of GMP certification for Pakistani rice exporters, which presently has become a hurdle in the way of rice export to Iran.
The Iranian Health Ministry has set standards for the rice import and only those who are registered under its GMP certification program can export rice to the country.
The REAP chairman said the Pakistan team will also try to convince GTC to announce tenders for super basmati and so-called long grain 386 rice so that REAP members could avail the facility to book export orders for Iran.
With a view to enhance liaison between the businessmen of two countries, the REAP members’ group will hold B2B meetings with Rice Importers Association of Iran.
Naeem will also call on the Pakistani commercial attache in Mashhad. He hoped the visit of the delegation will not only bring Pakistani and Iranian businessmen closer but would also open doors for boosting rice export to Iran, which is going to be a great market for Pakistan.
“I hope that the country (Pakistan) would regain its share in the Iranian market, which can become a good destination for their basmati exports,” he said.
“Iran is one of the largest rice importers and purchases rice worth $2 billion every year. However, Pakistan’s rice accounts for nearly 8% of Iran’s market,” he said.