India has said that the export ban on rice is a regulation rather than a restriction and is crucial for securing the food security of 1.4 billion people, according to an official.
This was stated by India in response to concerns raised by a group of countries including the US during a meeting of the WTO’s Committee on Agriculture in Geneva on September 27.
The Geneva-based official said that in the meeting, India reiterated its commitment to ensure food security in importing countries by granting exemptions to those in need upon their governments’ requests.
The Indian government has already allowed exports of non-basmati rice to Bhutan (79,000 tonnes), UAE (75,000 tonnes), Mauritius (14,000 tonnes) and Singapore (50,000 tonnes) through the National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL).
On July 20 this year, India banned exports of non-basmati white rice to boost domestic supply and keep retail prices under check during the upcoming festive season.
“The Government of India has the commitment that in case of food insecure, vulnerable countries and neighbouring countries request, it will provide with the required quantity of rice or wheat,” the government official said.
India has also argued that, in order to prevent private players from manipulating market conditions, advance notifications were not provided in the WTO.
Furthermore, these measures are temporary and are regularly reviewed to allow necessary adjustments based on domestic demand and supply situations.
A group of member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) including the US has raised concerns about banning the export of non-basmati white rice by India, saying the decision may impact import-dependent nations, the Geneva-based trade official said.
The US has urged India to lift this export ban with immediate effect.
These countries have argued that such measures had a detrimental impact on nations which are heavily reliant on imports of these agri commodities, particularly during times of crisis, the official said.
The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, and this year’s El Nino climate conditions are among the factors that have disrupted the foodgrain supply chain.
More than a dozen questions were raised by Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand, Switzerland, Thailand, the UK, and the US.
“They expressed concerns about the impact of India’s export ban on the global food market, highlighting its significance as the world’s largest rice exporter, accounting for over 40 per cent of global exports,” the official added.