KARACHI: The government of Pakistan has approached Kenyan authorities to press them to release hundreds of rice containers held at the port by Nairobi, a rice exporter said.
“Rice exporters have also planned to send a delegation to Kenya to discuss the problems faced by them,” said Rafiq Suleman, vice-chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap).
The government has taken up the matter after rice exporters sought its intervention into the dispute. Kenyan authorities have stopped 800 rice containers of Pakistan at the port and refused to release the consignment before laboratory analysis reports on grading are released.
“We hope that the problem will be resolved soon as Pakistani government has raised the matter with Kenya. It is a national issue and not anyone’s personal matter,” said Suleman.
Reap Chairman Malik Jahangir said the Kenyan government has divided rice imports into three categories – A, B and C. Since Pakistan exports to Kenya a big quantity of rice that comes in the C category, its consignments are facing hurdles and restrictions at Kenyan ports.
Reap has also approached the Kenyan high commissioner in Pakistan and he is trying to address the dispute, Jahangir added.
Rice exporters said Kenyan customs have imposed the new condition without any prior information.
Earlier, a certificate issued by the Kenya Bureau of Standards for clearance of rice cargo was sufficient, but now it is not accepted by the Kenya Revenue Authority.
Exporters say Kenya is a very important market for Pakistani long-grain rice. Pakistan exported a record 364,237 tons of long-grain Irri-6 rice to Kenya amounting to $134.1 million in the last fiscal year ended June 2010. Total rice exports stood around $2 billion last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2010.