Lahore - With efforts of Reap, Pakistan’s rice exports have achieved $2 billion target and now they are eying some $4 billion rice exports by 2018. If the government continues its support to the roadmap of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan for increasing rice exports the country can achieve its goal of doubling the rice exports in a couple of years.

Pakistan is estimated to export 4.5 million tons of rice for the year 2016/17, as experts pin hopes on higher hybrid production. The USDA Report has raised Pakistan’s exports forecast by 0.1 million tons to 4.5 million tons on a stronger pace of trade. USDA projects around 15-20 percent larger purchases by Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan from Pakistan. Reportedly, Saudi Arabia would import around 1.6 million tons of rice during the period.

REAP Chairman Ch Muhammad Shafique said that Pakistan’s rice exports have crossed 4 million ton mark in the past, and there is sufficient demand in the international market and if the country’s production during the year comes to 7 million tons, rice exports will surely surge to 4.5 million tons. However, he said that only market access is not sufficient to boost exports from Pakistan. There is a dire need to adopt export-oriented policies, as innovation and value creation are also vital to enhance export, he added.

It is unfortunate that the country has missed the overall export target for the outgoing fiscal year by a wide margin and is unlikely to come closer to the ambitious export goal of $35 billion projected under the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-18. The policy implementation was delayed by almost a year and even the support measures announced by the government for boosting exports from July 1, 2016 have yet to be implemented.

 Ch Shafique said that rice exporters are struggling in a difficult trading environment where global trade has contracted and most of the countries with similar product-mix have suffered a decline in exports.

He suggested the commerce ministry to closely monitor the export performance and hold continuous dialogue with the private and public stakeholders to reverse the trend.

For the sector-specific measures announced in the STPF, the government should try to ease the pressure on the export sector through multiple measures like improving access to energy, downward adjustment in electricity tariff, lowering of interest rates and zero rating of rice sector like other five leading export sectors, he said.

REAP chairman said that the rise and fall in commodity prices drastically impacted the country’s overall exports.

Experts said that rice price is again picking up and it might help to push up exports in next two to three years, he said.