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The price of rice likely to go up as India bans some exports

rice in India
Concerns over impact on the global food market

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Pacific island’s and worldwide countries' most needed food, rice, is being controlled by India, the exporter of over 40% of this commodity to the world, according to a group of World Trade Organization member.

The group led by the United States, was critical of India’s recent export ban on non-basmati white rice, going into two months now. This was voiced during an Agriculture Committee Sept. 27 meeting in Geneva.

According to a Geneva Trade official connecting with Samoa News, “The US and others had argued that such measures had a serious impact on countries heavily reliant on imports, particularly during times of crisis.

Samoa News notes that most of the Pacific countries buy their rice from the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Whereas the Atoa o Samoa’s inter island annual talks include the importance of food sustainability despite sending its laborers to developed countries like New Zealand and Australia.

However, the Geneva Trade Official pointed out yesterday that a dozen questions were raised by the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

“They expressed concerns about the impact of India's export ban on the global food market, highlighting its significance as the world's largest rice exporter, accounting for over 40% of global exports.

“The said countries had also made a strong appeal for India to make notifications on the three export bans on wheat and rice for better transparency, for which India didn't indicate when it plans to do so.

Reliable Source within the WTO Geneva office, stated, “In the past year, India has imposed several export bans besides this one, including on wheat in May 2022 and on broken rice in September 2022.

There’s a mention of that the ongoing war in Ukraine and this year's El Nino climate conditions, among other factors, underscore the need for a global approach to building resilience in food systems. However, ¨India continues to take an approach that exacerbates the market volatility resulting from the extraneous factors,¨ the US said.

“The US highlighted that more than 40 countries depend on India for over half of their rice imports, with some countries relying on India for more than 80% of their rice supplies. Even if they manage to find alternative sources to meet their rice needs, they will still face higher costs due to India's export ban, it added.

The Geneva Trade official also mentioned, “The US has stated, based on information from the US Department of Agriculture, that India is poised for a record-breaking harvest, with an estimated rice production of 134 million tons and stocks of 36 million tons for the 2023/ 2024 period. It believes that under such conditions, the new measure creates unnecessary trade barriers and hinders the flow of food to areas where it is most needed. We encourage India to lift this export ban with immediate effect,¨ said the US.

Additionally,” the US has inquired whether India has accepted all exemption requests from least developed countries and net food-importing countries, as India has claimed to do. It also urged India to duly notify the WTO of all the measures taken thus far to meet its basic transparency obligations.¨

Sources stated, “India emphasized that the new ban on rice is a regulation rather than a restriction, which is crucial for securing the food security of 1.4 billion people,” reiterating India's commitment to ensuring food security in importing countries by granting exemptions to those in need upon their governments' requests. India also continues to provide food assistance to vulnerable countries based on mutual agreements on the quantity.

¨We have clearly stated (in previous meetings that) the requirements of those countries were already met,¨ said India.

India argued that, ”in order to prevent private players from manipulating market conditions, advance notifications were not provided. Furthermore, these measures are temporary and are regularly reviewed to allow necessary adjustments based on domestic demand and supply situations, stated by a Geneva trade official.

Read more about the rice ban here: