Wheat exports: Minister responds to G7 nations' criticism on ban
India's move to ban wheat exports drew criticism from the Group of Seven (G7) nations saying such steps might be unproductive and worsen the situation of rising commodity prices. Following remarks from the nations at a meeting in Germany, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri stated that the country's wheat supplies were "comfortable" and that it would honor its commitments to neighboring and vulnerable countries.
- India is now the world's second-largest wheat producer, only after China.
- Many countries were relying on India for wheat supply, particularly after shipments from the Black Sea area stopped following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.
- The country's decision to restrict wheat exports follows the harvest misfortune due to the heatwave.
"If everyone starts to impose export restrictions or to close markets, that would worsen the crisis," German Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir said at a press conference in Stuttgart. "We call on India to assume its responsibility as a G20 member," Ozdemir added. Notably, Ozdemir and other G7 ministers advised nations such as India not to apply wheat-related restrictions that would contribute to market stress.
"Wheat stocks are comfortable. Decision to restrict wheat exports taken with focus on India's food security, ensuring affordable food grain and to combat market speculation (sic)," tweeted Puri. "India, a reliable supplier will fulfill all commitments including needs of neighbors and vulnerable countries," he added. India had previously justified its move by citing decreased output and substantially higher world pricing.
Officials said that while the export deals made before Friday's directions may still be fulfilled, any future shipments will require clearance from the Centre. "We don't want the wheat to go in an unregulated manner," NDTV quoted Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam as saying. He said wheat "serves the food requirements of vulnerable nations and people."
The prohibition is a dramatic reversal of the Centre's ambitions for a large export drive. The government was planning to send trade delegations to several countries to investigate the possibility of increasing wheat exports. "India has set a target of a record 10 million tons of wheat in 2022-23 amid rising global demand for the grain," the Centre said in a statement on Thursday.