Economy, Domestic Economy

Pakistan Vying to Boost Iran Rice Market Share

Pakistan Vying to Boost Iran Rice Market SharePakistan Vying to Boost Iran Rice Market Share

Iran has been a major importer of Indian rice during the past few years and imports have continued, even though the product revealed relatively high levels of arsenic contamination.

However, after President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Pakistan, this neighboring country is also seeking a share of the Iranian rice market. Pakistani rice used to be imported before the Indians conquered the market and though it had better quality, taste and aroma, it was overtaken by the reasonable price of its Indian counterpart.

“Pakistan holds 8% of Iran’s rice market. We are determined to increase the figure to 20 to 30%, facilitate the process and discuss production methods that would be certified by Iranian authorities. A 26-member delegation is to pay a visit to the country on April 22,” News International, a Pakistani daily, quoted Muhammad Shafique, chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, as saying.

Some Iranian merchants believe Pakistani rice traders will have to compete hard to replace the Indians in the Iranian market.

Kourosh Dehqani, a rice importer, says the import of Indian rice is monopolized by a few and crossing this barrier seems to be very difficult.

“Pakistani rice has good quality and to import it we need not pay as much for transportation, yet its high price is a challenge. If they do not reconsider and lower the prices, they will not succeed in joining the Iranian food basket,” he said, adding that setting a preferential tariff on the Pakistani product can also help.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has replaced Iran to become the largest importer of rice from India.

Indian rice exports to Iran decreased by 35% in 2014-15 and it is estimated that import of the product by Iran will stand at 1.6 million tons in 2015-16, Bloomberg cited data released by the US Department of Agriculture.

Domestic data, nevertheless, reveal the need for 800,000 to 1 million tons of imports.

The annual production of rice in India amounts to 8.7 million tons, half of which is exported, with Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE and Iraq being its major customers.