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Exporters of Pakistan reluctant to sell rice to EAC
KARACHI: Though the East Africa Community (EAC) has withdrawn the 35 per cent additional import duty on rice, confusion still prevails among the rice exporters as they are reluctant to negotiate orders with their East African buyers.

The Kenyan Revenue Authority's (KRA) latest notification says: "Further to our earlier communication giving deadline of March 15, 2005, for imposition of pre-CET (Common External Tariff) rates on imported rice and used clothing, please note that the deadline has been extended".

The KRA further announced that the exporters could continue to supply under the pre-CET rates until further communication is received from the headquarters.

However, the local exporters of Irri-6 are still in a fix to negotiate orders, as the KRA communication did not spell out a clear position.

"If we negotiate orders and quote some definite price to our importers, while East Africa changes its stance towards imposition of duty on rice we will incur huge financial losses", said an exporter.

The rice exporters said that the Kenyan government should announce a clear cut policy and decide the issue for an indefinite period so that exporters and importers could negotiate orders without any fear of "getting caught unawares".

According to figures recently released by the East African Tea Traders Association (EATTA), Pakistan was once again named as the topmost buyer of Kenyan Tea in February 2005.

Pakistan lifted 8,641 metric tonnes meaning 28.3 per cent of the total tea exports worth $14.7 million.

On the other hand, in the same month, exports from Pakistan was meagre, as rice exports were on hold due to extravagant increase in import duty imposed by the EAC countries, Kenya being one of the members.

Pakistan could not export even one million dollar worth of rice during the period.

With some efforts by the ministry of commerce and understanding of Kenyan authorities, the landed and on high-seas rice cargo was ordered to be released on 35 per cent pre-CET duty rate with the cut-off date being March 15, 2005..

Later, the Kenyan authorities extended such order till further communication. Kenyan importers as well as the local exporters are uncertain and are confused on the words "till further communication" as they foresee a sword hanging to strike any time. Such uncertain situation has forced the traders to be on the sidelines.

According to a source at the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) the commercial consular at the Pakistan High Commission in Nairobi is using his office to regularise the order.

The sub-committee on tariff and trade of REAP has also written to the Kenyan High Commissioner, Islamabad, requesting him to ensure that trade between the two countries go on smoothly and have urged the Commissioner to remove all impediments atnb the very earliest.●
MGR Archive 10.4.2005
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