TEHRAN (Iran News) – Head of Rice Importers Association explained the reason for halt in imports of rice from India and said that the negative trade balance with India was the main reason for the halt.
Speaking to ILNA, Mr. Akhavan Akbari said that importers have been told to stop imports of rice from India because of the trade balance with India, adding that due to return of Iran’s kiwi and apple from India, the trade balance between the two states turned negative and therefore rice importers were told to stop imports. He went on to say that it is not logical to stop import of a basic commodity for balancing the trade as elimination of kiwi from the household baskets does not pressurize the people’s table but elimination of rice affects the people’s table.
He reiterated that without any doubt the approval of the agriculture ministry will create chaos in the rice market and experience has shown us that always during months of Ramadhan and Muharram as well as Nowruz (New Year) holidays domestic rice consumption soars.
He noted that by the yearend two consumption peaks will be coincided with each other, stipulating that some 250,000 tons of rice should be imported by the yearend in order that the market does not feel any shortage and shortage of foreign rice will impact the domestic rice market and without any doubt the price of Iranian rice will increase.
Akbavan said that the price of foreign rice is almost one-thirds of domestic rice, adding that six domiciles of the society are main consumers of foreign rice and here the question is raised why foreign rice is eliminated from the people’s table just on the eve of Nowruz (New Year) holidays and month of Ramadhan.
He stated that the country needs annual import of 1.5m tons of rice and so far 1.274m tons have been imported and 250,000 tons more should be imported by the yearend and if it does not happen, we will see soaring of Iranian and foreign rice price in the market.
Akhavan reiterated that the decision for halt in imports of rice will destroy the tranquility of the market and will lead to the tension in the market and the prices will soar in March, admitting that since last week, the price of Iranian rice has increased 5,000 tomans per kilo.
He admitted that the fluctuation in the forex price affects the prices of goods and Iranian farmers prefer not to sell their rice because they know that there will be no imports and they can sell their products with higher prices.
On possibility of replacing Indian rice with rice from other countries like Thailand, he said that India accounts for 60% of Iran’s foreign rice market and the country cannot find any replacement in short time because due to sanctions, traders do business based on the credit and they are unable to find a replacement for India in short time because it takes at least 6 months to replace another country, by the way Iranians have gotten used to Indian rice and they may not welcome rice from other countries.