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Basmati rice exports: Duty free import allowed in EU
Daily Times
ISLAMABAD: Humayun Akhtar Khan, the federal commerce minister, said Friday that the European Commission has agreed to extend zero-rate duty on the import of Pakistani basmati rice from September 1.

Mr Khan told a news conference, which was also attended Tasneem Noorani, commerce secretary, that the commission has decided to re-include Pakistani super basmati brown rice in the list of approved varieties.

The commission had excluded Pakistani super basmati rice from its abatement scheme in December 2003.

Islamabad agitated against the decision and as a result of efforts of the federal government, the commission in February suspended the exclusion of super basmati from abatement scheme for such quantities of super basmati whose sale contracts were signed before December 31, 2003 and were exported by March 31, 2004.

As a result super basmati crop of 2003 was exported to the European Union countries under the abatement scheme.

Mr Khan said as a consequence of negotiations held at Geneva between the delegation of Pakistan, headed by Mr Noorani, and the commission in the last week of June, Islamabad succeeded in achieving the remarkable concessions for the new rice regime of Pakistan.

New concessions: The minister said under the concessions, the commission has extended the zero-rate duty for Pakistani basmati brown rice effective from September 1. Secondly, the EC has re-included of super basmati variety, as pure line variety in the list of approved varieties. Thirdly, the EC has reduced duty from previous rate of euro 264 per metric ton to euro 65 per metric ton on the import of husked rice (non-basmati rice).

Mr Khan said the commission has also reduced duty from euros 416 per metric ton to euros 175 per metric ton on the import of all milled rice including basmati. In addition, the basmati rice of the varieties produced in Pakistan will be protected as a geographical indication (GI). “The European Commission will provide all necessary technical assistance in this regard,” he added.

Rice exports to rise: Mr Noorani said after these concessions, Pakistan’s rice exports, which amount to $560 million, would swell to $1 billion.

About the geographical indication, Mr Noorani said that efforts are under to make laws in this regard and we are in touch with the ministry of food, agriculture and livestock (MinFAL). About the DNA test of the rice’s varieties, which is the condition of the EC for export to the EU, he said that they had offered to the EC to carry out the DNA test by Pakistani laboratories but the EC has not agreed with it and decided to carry out the DNA test at their own laboratories to gauge purity of the variety.

In case the super basmati, which is being exported to the EC, is found pure line variety, then the EC would give zero-rate duty otherwise it would impose duty of euro 65 to euro 175 per metric ton.
MGR Archive 23.8.2004
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