• Pakistan embassy clarifies rice-import deadline extension

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    Regarding the editorial, “The NFA mess,” that appeared in the Manila Times on April 20, 2017:

    In the editorial it was mentioned, “It also turns out Aquino had extended the deadline for rice imports from Pakistan and India, apparently at the instance of the Pakistani Ambassador.” At another place, it is mentioned, “It’s puzzling why Aquino can be so pliant to a request from a foreign envoy yet recalcitrant to his own Council.”

    The above puts the Ambassador of Pakistan in a negative perspective and gives the impression that he has some personal connection with the Administrator of NFA.

    We wish to clarify that the request for extension of the deadline was made on the insistence of exporters of rice from Pakistan as well as importers in the Philippines. Since it takes a longer duration for a container to reach the Philippines from Pakistan, our exporters were unable to meet the deadline of February 28, 2017.Hence, the extension up to March 31, 2017 was requested. We also wish to clarify that the Ambassador of Pakistan never requested for the extension of the deadline in respect of India. It may also be noted that the NFA Council had itself allowed the extension to all countries, including Pakistan.

    You must be aware that the NFA quota, or minimum excess volume (MAV) scheme, is actually governed by a memorandum of agreement signed between the government of Pakistan and the government of the Philippines in January 2014. Under the MOA, the Philippines had agreed to provide Pakistan with a country-specific quota in return for Pakistan’s support for the Philippines’ request for a waiver on special treatment on rice. Similar agreements were signed with other rice-exporting countries, such as China, India, etc.

    Hence, in importing rice from Pakistan, the Philippines is, in fact, fulfilling its international obligations and no special favor is being done to Pakistan. The correspondence made with the NFA in this regard was to ensure the implementation of the above MOA. It may also be mentioned that the agreement was signed in January 2014, actual implementation took place in July 2015. As a result; out of the total quota of 190,000 metric tons Pakistan could utilize only 50,000 metric tons.

    We hope that the above clarifies the matter and would help remove the misconception, if any, caused by the editorial. We further hope that the above will be given due consideration in your future editorials.

    Sadia Altaf Qazi
    Counsellor
    Embassy of Pakistan
    6th Floor Alexander House
    132 Amorsolo St.
    Legaspi Village, Makati
    parepmanila@mofa.gov.pk

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