Ethiopia, Israel, Bangladesh, UAE and Bhutan are amongst the recipients of the 3.5 lakh tonnes of wheat exported by India on a government-to-government (G2G) basis since a ban on its exports was imposed in May this year following concerns about a domestic spike in prices and possible shortages.

New Delhi may also consider exporting wheat flour, maida, semolina and whole wheat flour to “friendly countries’’ through the same route if the situation warrants, a source told BusinessLine.

While export prohibition on wheat, wheat flour, maida, semolina and whole wheat flour is likely to continue for some time, the government is not worried about rice as its export has not increased much over the past months, the source told BusinessLine.

“Rice traders have been apprehensive about a the possibility of a ban on rice exports but the government does not seem to be in a hurry as situation appears to be under control,” he added.

Curbs on wheat flour export

Following the ban on export of wheat on May 13, the government placed restrictions on the export of wheat flour in July and subsequently banned it.

“Export of wheat flour was banned as there was a 208 per cent increase in exports over the April-August 2022 period. It was because of the sharp increase in exports that the government also decided to ban export of related products including semolina, maida and whole wheat flour,” the source said.

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The situation for rice is different as increase in export of rice in the April-August 2022 period has been only about 5 per cent, he added.

India’s decision to ban export of wheat had led to a lot of global flak as several developed nations such as the US, the EU, Japan, Paraguay and Brazil blamed it for a further rise in global prices of the foodgrain. 

Interestingly, China jumped to India’s defence on the matter at the WTO stressing that targeting it was not right, more so when the purpose of the wheat export regulation was also to ensure that the country could continue to supply to other nations and neighbours with which it had struck agreements.

In its defence, India had argued that its wheat exports were less than 1 per cent of the world trade and hence the country’s curbs should not affect the global markets. India ranked 19th, amongst wheat exporting countries, in 2020 and accounted for a fraction of exports carried out by nations such as the US, Canada, France, Australia and Argentina. In 2021-22, India’s wheat exports were at 7.85 million tonnes.

“Globally, things have changed for the better now as supplies have improved following the Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement between Russia and Ukraine with Turkey and the United Nations for export of food from Ukraine,” the source said indicating that India was facing less pressure now.