After Mexico, US also reject Pak rice shipment on contamination charge

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LAHORE - After Mexico, the US has now rejected the Pakistani rice shipment of more than 1,000 bags on the allegation of contamination and refused its entry into the United States.

The sea container with 1,027 bags of rice was flagged by CBP agents at the Port of Chicago, and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists discovered Khapra beetles, an invasive species, in the shipment on July 29, industry sources said. The beetle can tolerate insecticides and fumigants and can survive without food for long periods. The CBP has required that the shipment be re-exported.

Industry sources said that the shipment included an original phytosanitary certificate from Pakistan stating that the cargo did not contain the beetle, one of the worst invasive species which feed on grain and cereal products. It is to be noted that last month, Mexico had also suspended rice imports from Pakistan following the detection of the Khapra beetle in some rice shipments from Pakistan.

Market sources said that around 3,000 tons of Pakistan rice shipment was placed in quarantine and may be destroyed or returned to Pakistan. Customs officials were asked to inspect every rice shipment from Pakistan for contamination but other Asian countries, including Vietnam and Thailand, are still permitted to export rice to Mexico.

The exporters have expressed serious apprehension over the propaganda against Pakistani rice from American and Mexican lobbies who are trying to create hurdles in the export of Pakistan rice. They said that Pakistani rice is $100 cheaper than American rice, which is why the American and Mexican lobbies are creating hurdles against export of Pakistani rice and government of Pakistan should take urgent measures to resolve the problem.

Reacting to the recent incident, REAP Vice Chairman Samee Ullah Ch urged the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) for urgent intervention by taking immediate steps to clear the containers loaded with Pakistani rice at Port of Chicago worth millions of dollars. Samee informed that during July 2012 to June 26, 2013 Pakistan has exported 34,000 metric ton of Pakistani rice worth $14.42 million.

He said that transit period from Pakistan to the US is around 75 days and Pakistani rice has been properly fumigated to ward off khapra beetle, he explained. However, if transit time exceeds this, there is a chance of contamination.

The rice exporters said that they will examine the containers to find out the exact reason for the contamination and has alleged that American and Mexican lobbies want to prevent Pakistan rice imports to Mexico because Pakistan rice is about $100 per ton cheaper than US rice.

The vice chairman said that if the lobbies working against the interest of Pakistani products succeeded in their nefarious designs, then Pakistani rice exporters would have to pay additional $5,000 against the freight charges per container to bring back to Pakistan and overall rice trade from Pakistan will be badly disturbed.

Courtesy: Nation

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