South Korea shows interest in urea import from Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Nov 18 (APP): The fertilizer policy announced by the government has increased its domestic production capacity by approximately 2 million tons and helped Pakistan to attain self-sufficiency in urea production.

“The excess capacity will earn precious foreign exchange for the country,” Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Engro Fertilizer Imran Ahmed told media persons after a meeting with South Korean Ambassador to Pakistan Suh Sangpyo and Counsellor (DCM) June Seo Park.

He said domestic fertilizer industry had enabled USD 3 billion import substitution for the country during the current year.

After achieving self-sufficiency for the domestic demand, the CFO said, the industry was now geared up to generate significant exports from untapped low BTU indigenous gas resources.

He said South Korea had shown interest in importing urea from Pakistan after its urea supplies had been impacted due to recent limitation on export of urea and other fertilizers from China.

“Pakistan has significant potential to export urea and earn valuable foreign currency for the country” he added.

Imran Ahmed said that the Fertilizer Policy 2001 had incentivized the local industry to invest around Rs 162 billion in new plants and capacity expansions.

He also highlighted that Pakistan remained a net importer of urea till 2012 as the domestic manufacturers faced capacity constraints to meet the country’s high urea demand.

He further explained that with domestic urea demand of hovering around 6.2 million tons, the fertilizer industry had an idle capacity of 800,000 tons on an annual basis. “If granted permission by the government, the industry can start making exports within 30 days, which will create additional jobs and result in significant foreign exchange inflows of over USD 700 million on current spot basis” he added.

He said that the urea producers utilize low quality (low British thermal unit – BTU) gas for which adequate gas reserves to meet the next decade needs were available. Moreover, with the government support, untapped reserves of low BTU gas in the country could be put to use to earn the much- needed foreign exchange for the country.

The requirement of urea in South Korea, coupled with unutilized capacity of Pakistan, could create a possibility to develop a long-term sustainable export opportunity for the country.