India open to exporting wheat to food deficit countries despite recent ban on wheat exports

INDIA—Despite the recent ban on wheat exports the Indian government will keep a window open for exports to countries that require wheat for food security needs, based on the requests of their governments.

Additionally, wheat consignments that were handed over to customs for examination, and registered in their systems on or before the ban was implemented, will be cleared for export, the ministry said in a statement

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The government reported to have already green-lighted a 61,500-ton shipment to sail from Kandla port to Egypt following a request from Egypt’s government.

Since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Ukraine’s ports have been blocked and civilian infrastructure and grain silos have been destroyed.

With throttled supplies from the Black Sea region, a top producer, India tried to fill the vacuum, and targeted record exports of 10 million tons.

To this end, New Delhi had considered increasing its wheat exports to Nigeria, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Bangladesh, South Korea, Sri Lanka and a number of countries in the Middle East

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However, the government’s target for record shipments this year was derailed by a heatwave that reduced output and caused a rise in domestic prices, prompting the ban on wheat export.

After India’s announcement of an embargo on its cereal exports, the price of wheat, at its highest since the war in Ukraine, broke a new record on Monday May 16 at the opening on the European market, at 435 euros per ton.

“This rise in prices has become a panic reaction to the decline in wheat production, and not a reaction in the absence of supply or a sudden increase in demand,” said India’s Commerce Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam.

According to the USDA’s first global projections for the upcoming growing season, world wheat stocks for 2022-23 are expected to drop to a six-year low of 267 million metric tons.

As underlying factors, the agency cited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and adverse weather hampering growing conditions in the key growing regions of Southern United States and Western Europe.

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India’s decision to halt wheat exports added to a growing wave of food protectionism worldwide caused by rocketing crop prices.

Indonesia have banned palm oil exports, while Serbia and Kazakhstan have imposed quotas on grain shipments.

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