PAKISTAN – Pakistan plans to buy about 200,000 tons of wheat from Russia as part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s bid to control inflation by increasing supplies of essential commodities.

Islamabad will soon sign a memorandum of understanding with Moscow for the supply of the grain on a government-to-government basis, Pakistan’s wheat commissioner, Imtiaz Ali Gopang, said.

He added that the shipments from Russia are likely to arrive by December after the federal cabinet approves the proposal.

Russia’s agricultural agency said the country has already shipped 128,000 tons to Pakistan this season, which marks the first wheat exports there since 2014, according to United Nations trade data. Pakistan also plans to import 1.5 million tons of wheat through state-run Trading Corp. of Pakistan, while more than 1 million tons of the grain will be imported by the private sector.

Pakistan’s presence in the global market could further boost global wheat prices.

The Khan administration is trying to spur growth through monetary easing, incentives for construction and making efforts to control inflation by facilitating imports of essential items such as wheat and sugar. The nation’s food price inflation surged 12.9% from a year earlier in August.

According to Gopang, the price of wheat flour will start coming down as four ships of wheat imported by Trading Corp. of Pakistan are seen arriving in October.

Pakistan, the world’s eighth-biggest wheat producer in 2019-20, has already imported about 430,000 tons so far this year to build strategic reserves of the grain and plug a 1.5-million-ton shortage, caused in part by damage to crops after heavy rains.

Private importers have booked 1.09 million tons of wheat, which will be shipped in 18 vessels until January.

“For making the country wheat secure, the NFSR (National Food Security and Research) has strategised three pronged strategy including, import through private sector, import by Trading Corporation of Pakistan and government-to-government arrangements,” the ministry said in a statement.

Imported wheat has also been exempted from the Anti-Hoarding Act imposed by the provincial governments on producing verified import record by the importers.

The federal government is to approach the Sindh government to waive off the excise and taxation charges of 1.25 percent on import value of wheat.

Pakistan needs to import 100,000 to 200,000 tons of wheat every month till April next year to check price hike in the domestic market as local production is not sufficient to stabilise grain supplies, according to The News findings.

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