The Centre has amended the export policy on wheat flour (atta), mandating its export subject to the recommendation of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on the export of wheat from July 12. 

The export of wheat flour remains free as the IMC recommendation is to maintain its quality , according to a notification issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on Wednesday.

This means unlike wheat export, which has been banned since May 13 2022, the export of wheat flour will continue subject to permission from the IMC.

“Global supply disruptions in wheat and wheat flour have created many new players and has led to price fluctuations and potential quality-related issues. Therefore, it is imperative to maintain the quality of wheat flour exports from India,” the notification stated.

In the interim period, from July 6- 12, the government has specified the consignments of wheat flour that will be allowed to be exported. This would include consignments where loading of wheat flour on the ship commenced before the notification and where the consignment was handed over to the Customs before the notification and was registered in their system.

Wheat exports were banned in May as an unseasonal heat wave had affected the crop leading to a spike in domestic prices.

Chances for confusion

Traders said that it will be a problem for the Customs at ports to differentiate between maida and superfine quality of atta, both of which are wheat flour, and there could be unwarranted troubles for exporters. Besides, there is no separate HS code for each of wheat products, which again will create confusion as only atta has been kept under “permit raj”, a trader said.

However, officials told BusinessLine that they do not foresee a problem and in case of any confusion, a clarification will be issued. “The notification only pertains to wheat flour (atta) and not to maida or sooji . There should be no confusion about that,” said the official.

Some traders are believed to have approached the government to withdraw the order, claiming that atta export in retail packs is not more than 75,000 tonnes per year. “We have built this business over the years, working closely with overseas buyers to deliver Indian products/brands to mainly the Indian community. Putting retail branded packs at par with bulk atta bags shows the policy makers are working in isolation,” said an exporter requesting anonymity, who sells his branded food products mainly in Dubai and other big cities in west Asia.