Call to reopen rice cargo return case

KARACHI: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has urged SM Munir the chief executive officer (CEO) of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to reopen the case of return of rice cargo from Mexico and re-examine the matter threadbare to enable the rice exporters to again begin exports to this handsome market.

President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said Mexico suspended rice imports from Pakistan following the detection of the Khapra beetle in some rice shipments from Pakistan. Around 3,000 tons of Pakistan rice shipment was placed in quarantine and returned to Pakistan.

The rice exporters pleaded that the Mexican Port should return rice containers in which the khapra beetle was found and other containers should be examined to check for contamination and if no contamination found should be accepted Unfortunately the Pakistan Embassy did not help and paid no heed and behaved irresponsibly causing heavy losses to the exporters. It was expected by the exporters that the Pakistan embassy would intervene and get the matter resolved judiciously but the officials did not bother to mitigate the problems of the exporters.

The transit period from Pakistan to Mexico is around 70 days and Pakistani rice had been properly fumigated to ward off khapra beetle.

Some rice exporters alleged that the American and Mexican lobbies wanted to prevent Pakistani rice imports to Mexico because Pakistan’s rice is about $100 per ton cheaper than US rice. However, most of the U.S. rice that Mexico imports is paddy (rough) rice, milled by Mexico’s domestic mills. Only the U.S. and Brazil allow exports of paddy rice, they added.

Pakistan has exported about 16,000 tons of rice to Mexico during January – May 2013, up about 1,500% compared to the same period last year. He said that the U.S. is traditional rice supplier to Mexico and rice exports from the US to Mexico during January – May 2013 stood at around 30,000 tons. Mexico consumes around 850,000 tons of rice annually, and rice imports by Mexico are projected at around 730,000 tons (milled rice equivalent) in 2013-14. The U.S. accounts for over 90% of all rice imports by Mexico.

Thaver urged the CEO TDAP to investigate the matter thoroughly and ascertain the cause and find ways to regain the Mexican market. The CEO TDAP could also obtain an explanation from the commercial attache in Mexico for not assisting the exporters and also question the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) for their role in the adverse situation. The rice exporters expected that REAP managing committee members should have reached Mexico and persuaded the embassy officials to accompany them to port authorities and carried out on the spot examination of cargo to advocate the cause of the rice exporters.

It is pertinent to note that the commercial attaches placed at global destinations are duty bound to help the exporters and if they remain mere spectators in times of difficulties then it is important that they are asked to explain the irresponsible behaviour and negligence.

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