Pakistan asks BD to lift ban on jute export
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
By Israr Khan
ISLAMABAD: A row between Bangladesh and Pakistan is developing over Dhaka’s ban on export of raw jute, which is threatening the survival of 14 jute mills and livelihood of 100,000 workers in Pakistan.
Pakistan imported around 120,000 tons of raw jute a year from Bangladesh and Dhaka’s ban could compel Islamabad to review its trade policy, sources in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture told The News.
“Food security cannot be ensured if the ban is not removed quickly,” Federal Food and Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal said while talking to Bangladesh’s Acting High Commissioner Sufi-ur-Rehman in a meeting here on Monday.
“The issue is quite critical and needs urgent consideration from the government of Bangladesh,” he added.
The ban must be seen in the context of food security as without jute bags Pakistan’s government would face immense difficulty in packing commodities, particularly wheat.
“Both the countries have ample potential in the agricultural sector and can immensely benefit from each other. We need to find long-term solutions to our issues. We request the Bangladesh government to show flexibility to Pakistan,” he said.
On December 7, 2009, Bangladesh banned raw jute export to over two dozen countries including Pakistan. The ban was imposed without prior notice and at a worst time for the jute industry of Pakistan.
Gondal said not only local jute mills would suffer but also those dealing in wheat, rice and other agricultural products would be badly hit due to the persistent ban on the export of raw jute.
Members of the All Pakistan Jute Mills Association has already established letters of credit for import of 28,576 tons of raw jute and LCs for an additional 33,550 tons were in process at the time of the imposition of ban.
If the ban remains in place for a longer period, availability of bardana (gunny bags) for wheat, rice, fruits and vegetables would become a serious problem.
The food ministry has requested that already established LCs should be honoured and jute be supplied to Pakistan at already agreed prices and terms and conditions.
Bangladesh has not so far fully released raw jute consignment of Pakistan which was brought for loading on ships for export.
The government on Monday once gain requested Dhaka to intervene in the matter, as the ban would adversely affect the packing of wheat and other agricultural commodities and cause food security problem.
Bangladesh has even blocked export of ready for shipment and paid consignment to Pakistan. Although at the beginning of January Bangladesh partially released the shipment, it blocked other jute products ready for export.
According to the jute mills association, Bangladesh has violated international norms both on legal and moral grounds as the payment for shipments had already been made through TT/LCs. The sellers have also increased prices of raw jute, making it uneconomical for Pakistani industry.
The BD high commissioner said the ban was not country-specific and pledged that he would convey the request to his government asking it to show flexibility to the brotherly country.
Gondal appreciated the high commissioner’s proposal to work jointly in value addition in the jute mills industry which would benefit the two countries.
He said the consignments already ready for shipments must be released soon to avert problems in the near future.
He said a delegation comprising both the public and private sectors would soon visit Bangladesh to look into the matter and find ways and means to resolve the issue once and for all.