ISLAMABAD - Pakistani exporters are hoping for a sharp growth in rice export to Azerbaijan following the latter’s decision to waive customs duty on rice import from Pakistan.
Muhammad Kashif-ur-Rehman, Secretary General of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), told WealthPK that exporters are hoping to take full advantage of the relaxation announced by the Azerbaijan government on import of rice from Pakistan. The Azerbaijan government has announced exemption of customs duty on rice import from Pakistan till December 31, 2027. Kashif said that Pakistan’s rice export to Azerbaijan was registered at $1.57 million in 2021, which was only 4.63% of the total rice import of Azerbaijan during that period.
“Pakistan has the potential to boost rice export to Azerbaijan following the waiver of customs duty,” the REAP secretary general said. He was of the view that the tax waiver is also an opportunity for Pakistan to compete with regional rice exporting countries and grab more shares in the Azerbaijan market. He said that Pakistan’s rice exports increased during the last few years and were at the highest at $2.51 billion in 2021-22. Rice exports also remained highest in terms of quantity at 4.87 million metric tonnes (MT) during the last year, he informed. Kashif called upon the government to help exporters find new markets for rice export. “Concessions from various countries in customs duties will increase exports,” he added. Chela Ram Kewlani, Chairman REAP, said in a statement that Pakistan’s rice export to Azerbaijan would be enhanced following the decision of waiving the customs duty. “The decision will not only help in enhancing rice export, but will also increase the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries,” he added.
Kewlani urged rice exporters take maximum advantage of this relaxation. According to the State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the country imported 46,765 MT rice in 2021 worth $33.92 million. India was the largest exporter of rice to Azerbaijan having 73% market share worth $24 million, followed by Russia with a share of 9.79% worth $3.32 million, and Kazakhstan with 9.65% share worth $3.27 million in 2021. Pakistan remained the fourth largest rice exporter to Azerbaijan with a market share of 4.63% worth $ 1.57 million during last year. According to the World Bank, population of Azerbaijan is 10.14 million, and rice is among the main food items of most of the people in the country.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), rice export to Azerbaijan was registered at $242,000 during first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year against $158,000 during the same period of last year, with an increase of 53.16%. In September 2022, Pakistan’s rice export to Azerbaijan grew by 110% and rose to $82,000 from $39,000 during the corresponding month of last year. Kenya, China, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Tanzania and other Gulf and European countries are the major buyers of Pakistani rice.