Amid Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations’ criticism of New Delhi over its decision to ban wheat export, China on Sunday came to India’s defence, saying blaming developing countries like India won’t solve the global food crisis.
Last week, India amended the export policy of wheat, putting its export under the “prohibited” category. The Ministry of Commerce’s order stated the government has banned the wheat exports with “immediate effect”.
“Now, the agriculture ministers from G7 urge India not to ban wheat exports, then why won’t G7 nations themselves move to stabilise food market supply by hiking their exports,” asked an editorial published in Global Times.
“Although India is the second-largest wheat producer in the world, it accounts for only a small part of global wheat exports. By contrast, some developed economies, including the US, Canada, the EU and Australia, are among major exporters of wheat,” it added.
According to the GT, if some Western countries decide to reduce wheat exports in the wake of a potential global food crisis, they will be in no position to criticise India, a country that faces pressure to secure its own food supply.
The article argued that G7 countries were welcome to join the efforts in tackling the global food crisis and advised against criticising India and other developing countries.
India issued a press statement on Saturday saying the decision to restrict wheat exports will control food prices and strengthen the food security of India and other countries facing a deficit, and that India remains a reliable supplier as it is honouring all contracts.
At a press conference with Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary Department of Food and Consumer Affairs, and Manoj Ahuja, Secretary Agriculture, Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said all exports orders where the letter of credit has been issued would be fulfilled.
He added that directing wheat exports through government channels would not only ensure fulfilling the genuine needs of our neighbours and food-deficit countries, but also control inflationary expectations.
He said that the control order serves three main purposes: “It maintains the food security for the country, it helps others who are in distress, and maintains India’s reliability as a supplier,” he said.
WHY THE BAN?
International wheat prices have been going up. Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, global wheat prices have so far increased over 40 per cent. Before the war, Ukraine and Russia accounted for a third of global wheat and barley exports. Wheat from other countries was selling as high as USD 420-480 per tonne.
Pandey has said retail prices of wheat and wheat flour in India have risen in the past year by up to 19 per cent, and the government’s decision to ban wheat export is expected to cool down the domestic prices in a week or so.
The country’s wheat production has been lowered to 105-106 million tonnes for the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) from an earlier estimate of 111 million tonnes, due to heatwave, especially in northwestern India.
Pandey has said the decision will definitely help in softening the prices. However, it will not be possible to predict how much the prices will fall. “The domestic prices will no doubt cool down in a week or so,” he said on the sidelines of the press conference.
With Agency Inputs