India told the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that it is unfair to blame its export restriction on wheat for the surge in global prices of the commodity, and asked member countries to stop “naming and shaming” it.
At an informal meeting on agriculture, New Delhi said it restricted wheat exports for the sake of domestic food security, and asked the WTO members to analyse the exports data of the last four-five months to know who the main wheat exporters and contractors were.
“India said it is not fair to blame its export restriction on wheat for the surge in global prices to $450 per tonne from $325 per tonne,” said a Geneva-based official.
India has drawn flak for imposing an export restriction on wheat. Last week, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade issued a notification banning export of wheat with immediate effect to control price rise, but later eased the restriction to allow shipments of wheat consignments that were registered with the customs authority before the wheat export ban came into force on May 13.
At the WTO meeting, India said there is no shortage in global supply and that speculation by some traders is the real culprit behind the price increase, according to officials. India has been criticised for the move despite exporting wheat worth $177 million in March and $473 million in April after the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in late February, even when at least eight countries–Egypt, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Kosovo, Ukraine and Belarus–imposed restrictions on wheat exports. On Friday, New Delhi argued that traditionally it is not a big wheat exporter and ships out only 0.5 million tonnes annually although as an exception, it exported 7.5-8 million tonnes of wheat last year, which is still only 3-4% of the global market. India has already expressed concern over hoarding of food grains which leads to unjustified increase in food prices, and said that food grains should not go the way of Covid vaccines, for which poor countries struggled even for initial doses while the rich nations had sufficient.
The Economic Times