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Pakistan wheat surplus to cool imports this year

Pakistan wheat surplus to cool imports this year

LONDON: Wheat surplus in the country is likely to mean little appetite for imports this year, although it will purchase more oilseeds due lower crop prospects, a leading local trader said.

In November last year, the country imposed a 20 per cent import duty on wheat to help protect local farmers from imports, leading to the cancellation of some of the import deals.

Anis Majeed, chairman of Karachi-based food commodities firm Bombi’s Group, said the country was estimated to produce 25 million tonnes of wheat this year versus around 24m tonnes last year. Domestic wheat consumption was pegged around 22-23m tonnes, he said.

“This year, Pakistan will not make big imports because we have the crop and there is a surplus,” Majeed said on a visit to London this week.

The International Grains Council estimated Pakistan’s wheat production in 2015-16 at 25m tonnes, versus 25.5m tonnes in 2014-15.

In contrast, the country was expected to import higher quantities of oilseeds including canola, said Majeed, who is also chairman of the wholesale grocers’ association of Karachi.

“If you calculate (oilseeds) ... altogether this year, we are expecting to import about 1.5 to 1.6m tonnes,” he said. “Last year was a little less — about 1.2m tonnes and our crop was better than this year.”

Majeed said Pakistan expected a good rice crop although exports were likely to be tempered by slower demand.

“Pakistan’s production is around 6.5m tonnes annually — out of which 3.5m tonnes we export,” he said. “Prices have come down as the international market has come down,” he added. “Therefore, there could be a little less (exports) this year.”

Majeed said rice exporters were looking to boost sales to Iran, a major consumer of Basmati grade rice.

Iran and six world powers are seeking to overcome remaining differences with a looming self-imposed June 30 deadline to reach a deal over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme. The timing of sanctions relief for Iran are among the disputes holding up a nuclear accord.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2015

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