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‘Govt can negotiate to import wheat despite India’s export ban’

Published : 15 May 2022 09:37 PM | Updated : 16 May 2022 01:49 PM

Despite the ban on wheat export by India, there are opportunities for friendly neighbor Bangladesh to import wheat from India as per the terms of the Indian ban.

Some government officials and businessmen expressed the above saying that although India imposed a ban on wheat export, Bangladesh could be able to import wheat from India by applying those terms. However, it requires diplomatic efforts to import wheat. They also suggested seeking alternative markets for wheat import.

According to the website of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade of India, the country has mentioned two reasons for the ban on wheat exports. One of them is to coordinate their overall food security. And the second one is to respond to the food security needs of neighboring and other countries having food security at at-risk. Naturally, as a friendly neighbor, Bangladesh deserves this facility.

Besides, official sources said that the bonds opened for importing wheat from India before May 13 are not barred from export.

It should be mentioned that India has imposed a ban on wheat export under certain conditions on the ground of meeting the domestic demand of the country. The decision has been in effect since last Friday (May 13). This decision of India will have an impact on the whole world including Bangladesh. 

In the years before the Ukraine-Russia war, more than 55 percent of the country's wheat imports came from India. After the war began, dependence on wheat imports from India increased. 

Officials and businessmen said that, in this circumstance, the impact of the Indian ban is also felt in Bangladesh.

They, however, said that under the terms of India's export ban, there is an opportunity to bring wheat to Bangladesh as a neighboring country. Bangladesh should use that condition and make diplomatic efforts to import wheat. Besides, Bangladesh would have to find alternative markets for wheat import as well.

According to sources, usually, Russia and Ukraine meet the demand for wheat in European markets. But since the war between the two countries began last February, many countries in the world, including Europe, have started importing wheat from India. At that time India was also supplying wheat quite well.

But, recently the Indian Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry decided to suspend wheat exports. The government later said in a statement that exports were being stopped for the time being in view of the shortage of wheat in the world market. The decision to export will be taken again after judging the situation.

Mahbubul Alam, President of Chattogram Chamber believes that being a neighboring country, India always stands by Bangladesh and also will do the same thing continuously. 

“During the challenging time, we will definitely be able to import wheat, rice and other consumer goods from India as before. This assurance must be realized expeditiously through diplomatic efforts”, he said.

According to sources, in April this year, India exported a record quantity of 14 lakh tonnes of wheat while there is also an agreement to export of 15 lakh tons of wheat in the month of this May. 

Abul Bashar Chowdhury, the owner of BSM Group, which is a major importer of wheat, said, "If the quantity of wheat, which is in the pipeline, reaches the country, there will be no crisis.

He, however, opined for alternative market for wheat import as saying that then the price will be higher. 

Muhammad Mahbubur Rahman, a senior assistant secretary in the Foreign Procurement Branch of the Ministry of Food, said, "Officially, our target was 6.5 lakh tons of wheat. But we have called for tenders for seven lakh tons, which are supposed to come by the month of June. As a result, imports will be higher than the target.

"We are planning ahead for the next financial year," he continued as saying that as the alternative countries, Bulgaria, Australia, Canada and even Russia have offered Bangladesh for wheat export. Considering them, we are verifying which one is more convenient. ‘

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