Pakistan’s rice exports are expected to surpass $3 billion despite obstacles

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After textiles and IT services, rice is Pakistan’s third-largest export category, although, in FY23, sales of the commodity fell by 14.5 percent to $2.1 billion from $2.5 billion. However, experts predict that bumper harvests in 2023–24 will increase rice exports to $3 billion.

Chairman Rice Exports Association of Pakistan Chela Ram Kelwani said in a statement, “We are optimistic that we will be able to export five million tons of rice worth $3 billion during the current fiscal, and the recently enacted Indian ban on rice exports will have a significant impact on trade dynamics while providing Pakistan with a great opportunity to fill the gap, expand into new markets, and increase revenues.”

Global rice export prices have seen a noticeable increase in recent weeks. Rates have rapidly increased over the past two weeks, affecting both Thailand and Pakistan.

On July 15, Pakistan quoted a price of $485 per metric ton (FOB), whereas Thailand offered rice at a rate of $495 per metric ton (FOB). But since then, the situation has considerably changed.

Currently, Pakistan’s rice prices have increased to $600 per metric ton (FOB), whereas Thailand is selling it for a greater price of $625 per metric ton (FOB).

The severe floods that destroyed 21 percent of the nation’s production and decreased exports by 14.5 percent last season were the main obstacles. With prices hanging around their 11-year high, the international demand was still present, but the domestic shortage made it impossible to ship enough rice.

It should be highlighted that crops as important as rice cannot possibly be left to the whims of climate conditions. The biggest barrier to reaching the objective of $5 billion in rice exports is the lack of value addition, but numerous additional export value chain bottlenecks deserve the government’s strong attention.

Even in 2023, Pakistani rice is being sent to the UAE, where it is being reprocessed and repackaged by Indian companies for global distribution at higher margins. Due to a lack of modern technology and successful global marketing, Pakistan is not utilizing its full potential.