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Pakistan eyes record rice exports, diversifying markets across the globe

01 May 20243 min reading

Pakistan is projected to export a record 5.5 million tons of rice in the 2023/24 season (November-October), expanding its reach beyond traditional markets to include Southeast Asia and the Western Hemisphere. 

According to the USDA, Pakistan exported over 2.8 million tons of rice in the first four months of the 2023/24 season, nearly double the amount compared to the same period last year. This surge in exports can be attributed to a near-record crop, resulting in low prices and intense competition with other Asian and Western Hemisphere rice suppliers. Additionally, Pakistan’s rice exports are benefiting from export restrictions imposed by India. The country is actively pursuing sales in distant regions and exploring new markets. 

Pakistan, which produced 7.3 million tons of rice last season, is expected to harvest 9 million tons this season. With a larger crop, Pakistan remains a key supplier to neighboring markets such as Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Historically, Pakistan has also been a supplier to nearby East African countries such as Tanzania and Kenya. However, as Indian rice export restrictions continue to impact global trade, many other price-sensitive countries in Africa such as Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Senegal, and Madagascar have turned to Pakistan to fulfill demand.

Beyond its typical African and Middle Eastern markets, Pakistan is expanding exports to Southeast Asia. The Philippines is the top rice importer and has historically relied on supplies from other nearby Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries that have a tariff advantage. However, a presidential decree in December 2022 lowered the import tariff for all countries to 35 percent through the end of 2024, eliminating the ASEAN advantage and making Pakistani exports more profitable in that market. Pakistan capitalized on this opportunity by shipping 150,000 tons there since the tariff reduction. Similarly, Pakistan has become one of the main suppliers to Indonesia. Indonesia has sought over 3.0 million tons of the most affordable rice to offset its smaller crop. Typically, Indonesia buys from Thailand and Vietnam but has turned to Pakistan as a low-cost alternative. 

Pakistan rice exports also extend to the Western Hemisphere. While Pakistan regularly exports basmati rice to Canada and the United States, Pakistan has recently begun shipping large quantities of regular white rice to Cuba, Chile, and Haiti. Pakistani rice exports to Haiti are significant as Haiti has traditionally imported nearly all its rice from the United States. In 2023, Haiti imported more than 120,000 tons from Pakistan, accounting for a quarter of imports that year, due to competitive prices and very tight U.S. supplies during most of the year.

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