India to ship rice to UAE, 4th country to get grain since export ban
India, the world’s largest exporter of rice, barred overseas sales in July to cool high cereal inflation, which continues to be in double digits
NEW DELHI: India has approved the export of 75000 tonnes of non-basmati rice to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the fourth country to which shipments of the grain have been allowed since an export ban was imposed in July to curb domestic inflation.
A government notification on Monday said shipments for UAE will be handled by the National Cooperative Export Ltd, a state-backed enterprise set up in January following a cabinet decision.
India, the world’s largest exporter of rice, barred overseas sales in July to cool high cereal inflation, which continues to be in double digits. The government at the time said it would allow shipments to friendly countries for their food-security needs once such diplomatic requests were cleared by the external affairs ministry.
Since the ban, India has allowed the export of over 1.4 million tonnes of white rice following requests by Singapore, Bhutan and Mauritius.
“As a nation alive to global food-security concerns, India will continue to offer rice to friendly countries after evaluating them provided the exported quantities are used for domestic consumption and not used for trade,” a food ministry official said.
The prohibition on exports of the staple by India, which has a 40% share in global trade, sent prices rocketing in world markets, with the FAO rice price index rising to its highest level in 15 years at 40.31% year-on-year in August 2023.
Besides, India has also exported broken rice to countries in need since the ban. It has allowed broken-rice shipments of 500,000 tonnes to Senegal, 200,000 tonnes to Indonesia, 100,000 tonnes to Mali and 50,000 tonnes to Gambia.
India’s ban on export of non-basmati white rice in July came three days after Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal, sparking fears of a global food shortage. In September last year, the government stopped the export of broken rice. That ban is still in place.
To curb shipments of parboiled rice, India has also imposed a 20% tariff. In May last year, the country banned wheat export, but the country is not a major exporter of wheat.
The reasons for curbs on food export are domestic. The government is battling elevated food inflation amid fears of rice shortage due to the monsoon-disrupting El Nino weather pattern. The country is heading into a festive season when food demand soars. The Modi government also faces a general election next year and state assembly polls in five states this year.