Iran urged to extend zero import duty to local rice

The Iranian minister advised the wheat exporters to nominate their representative for a meeting to be held on Friday in which prospects of wheat import from Pakistan would be discussed. - File photo

KARACHI: Pakistani rice and wheat exporters are demanding preferential treatment from Iran under the existing preferential trade agreement (PTA) and as a fellow ECO member country.
In a meeting with the visiting deputy commerce minister of Iran, Mr Ghobadi, at the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) offices here on Thursday, rice and wheat exporters representatives also demanded an early arrangement with regard to currency swap between the two countries.
TDAP secretary Javed Anwar Khan introduced the Iranian minister with Safdar Mehkri, vice chairman, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, and Abdul Kaleem Baakza of Wheat Exporters Association of Pakistan.
Mr Safdar Mehkri highlighted the potential of rice exporters and identified hurdles faced by their members while doing business with their Iranian counterparts. He requested the Iranian deputy commerce minister to give preferential treatment to Pakistani rice by extending zero import duty under the existing PTA and as a special treatment for being fellow ECO member country.
He suggested that the Iranian government should issue import permit to all interested rice importers in Iran and remove all sorts of restrictions, including removal of requirement of Mujawaz.
Wheat and rice representatives stressed the need for an early currency swap arrangement between the two countries and added that it would be more beneficial to Iran.
Abdul Kaleem Baakza appraised the minister about the quality and availability of surplus wheat for exports and suggested that the Iranian government should remove administrative hurdles confronted by this sector.
The Iranian deputy commerce minister said that relationships between two countries could go a long way in the presence of good rail, road and sea links.
Mr Ghobadi said that the Iranian people prefer Pakistani rice. Therefore, problems identified by the Reap leader would be resolved.
However, the minister said that wheat import depends on acceptability by Iranian consumers.
The minister advised the wheat exporters to nominate their representative for a meeting to be held on Friday in which prospects of wheat import from Pakistan would be discussed.
Iran will buy a large quantity of wheat from Pakistani for re-export to Central Asian countries after value-addition, adds APP.
This was stated by the Iranian deputy commerce minister while talking to President and members of Karachi Chamber of Commerce at a hurriedly convened meeting here on Thursday.
Iranian Consul-General Abbas Ali Abdollahi, Commercial Counsellor Syed Hasan Alavi, chairman, Businessmen Group and former president of KCCI Siraj Kassem Teli were also present.
He said that the decision to import wheat from Pakistan had been made at the meeting between Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahamdinejad, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Islamabad this week.
“I have come here to meet wheat exporters in private sector and buy large quantity of wheat from Pakistan.
This will serve as the starting point for the beginning or large scale bilateral trade between Iran and Pakistan,” he added.
He said that wheat would be imported under private sector set up and payments would be settled either in local currency, through barter trade or using banking channels between the two countries.
He said Iranian bank branches would be opened in Pakistan while Pakistani banks would establish their branches in Iran for boosting bilateral trade.
“We can also buy this wheat and supply electricity or petroleum products to Pakistan under barter trade,” he added.
The Iranian minister said that third option would be payment in local currencies instead of using the currencies of other countries.
He said that wheat milling capacity in Iran was to the tune of 25 million metric tons per annum and only half of the capacity is utilised.