ISLAMABAD : The Qatar government has finally agreed to lift the ban on Pakistan-origin rice, during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit on January 21-22. Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce had been taking up the issue of excluding Pakistan in the tender with the Qatar government time and again; however, it was finally resolved after PM Imran’s visit.
Qatar agreed to include Pakistani rice in the tender documents of the Central Tendering Committee (CTC), which falls directly under the purview of Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce. Although the private sector in Qatar continued to import rice from Pakistan, the CTC, which procures state-supplied subsidised rice for Qatari citizens, made its tender Indian-origin specific, thereby effectively banning the rice import from any other origin, including Pakistan during 2011-12.
Reportedly, the main reason for this change was the substandard and low-quality of Pakistani rice supplied by the exporters against the government tenders in 2011-12. The Indian rice exporters were the ultimate beneficiaries of this situation and Indian rice exports to Qatar reached 142,000 tonnes in 2017 from 18,774 tonnes in 2011.
As a viable solution, a third-party inspection for the supply of rice through CTC tenders and taking strict action against those involved in supplying substandard rice in future will be offered to ensure quality rice. The lifting of ban is expected to provide additional $40-50 million of rice exports to Qatar if the quality is maintained. Qatar annually imports 200,000 tonnes of rice.
Adviser on Commerce, Textile and Industries Abdul Razak Dawood stated the government is taking different measures for export enhancement, including reclaiming traditional markets, besides accessing new markets. He said one of the initiatives is to manage removal of restrictions on Pakistani products in foreign markets.