Indian rice exports not hit by Iraq war | business | Hindustan Times
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Indian rice exports not hit by Iraq war

India's rice exports have not been hurt because of the war in Iraq but could face a slowdown in shipments to Kuwait, said analysts.

business Updated: Apr 03, 2003 14:05 IST
PTI

India's rice exports have not been hurt because of the war in Iraq but could face a slowdown in shipments to Kuwait, traders and analysts said on Wednesday.

India exports about 600,000 tonnes of aromatic Basmati rice annually, about 40 percent of it to countries in the Middle East.

"We are not facing any problem in shipping Basmati to the Gulf. But there is some slowdown in moving cargo to Kuwait which annually buys around 70,000 tonnes of this variety," said Amit Arora of Satnam Overseas, leading rice exporters.

The United States, European countries and South Africa are among other countries which buy Basmati rice.

Arora said shipments to Saudi Arabia, one of the main buyers of Basmati rice, were moving smoothly.

"Our rice markets are nowhere close to the scene of action, except Kuwait," said a Bombay-based commodities analyst. "At the most shipments could get delayed or cargo could be unloaded at Dubai."

Traders expect India's rice exports, including Basmati, in 2002/03 (April-March) to be around 4.5 million tonnes.

India has been aggressive in its rice sales this year, mainly to Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It is emerging as the world's second-largest rice exporter after Thailand, edging Vietnam to third place.

Exporters are eyeing Iraq as a larger market once the war ends. Iraq now gets most of its rice from Vietnam and Thailand.

"Once peace returns, Iraq could be a big market for our rice," said SS Kumar, vice president of LT Overseas, leading grain exporters.

Kumar said his company, which sells about 25,000 tonnes of Basmati to Saudi Arabia was not facing any disruption in shipments.

India, which has huge grain stocks, is expected to produce about 77.7 million tonnes of rice in 2002/03 (July-June), down from 93.1 million tonnes in the previous year.

The country's grains and oilseeds crops have been hit by poor monsoon rains and a drought in 2002.

(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral)