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US Urges India to Reconsider Export Ban on Non-Basmati Rice

Rice export from India

New Delhi, September 29, 2023 - In a recent development, the United States has formally requested India to lift its export ban on non-basmati rice, citing it as an "unnecessary trade barrier." This request was made at the World Trade Organization (WTO), sparking a debate on trade restrictions versus food security measures.

India, in response, defended its position at a meeting of the WTO agriculture committee, asserting that the export ban was not a restriction but rather a regulation intended to safeguard the food security of its 1.4 billion citizens. A Geneva-based trade official who attended the meeting provided insights into the discussions.

"India pointed out at the WTO agriculture committee meeting on Wednesday that it granted exemptions from the export ban to those in need upon their governments' request and was committed to ensuring food security in those countries," the trade official stated.

The primary contention raised by the United States is that India is poised for a record estimated rice production of 134 million tonnes and possesses stocks amounting to 36 million tonnes for the 2023-24 period, according to information from its Department of Agriculture. Given this ample domestic supply, the U.S. argues that the export ban hampers the flow of food to regions where it is most needed, creating unnecessary trade barriers.

"The U.S. said that under the conditions of ample domestic supply, the new export ban created unnecessary trade barriers and hindered the flow of food to areas where it is most needed. It said that it would encourage India to lift the export ban with immediate effect," the trade official reported.

India, however, emphasized that its export ban on non-basmati rice was a temporary regulation, subject to regular review, and that adjustments could be made based on domestic demand and supply situations. The country highlighted the importance of securing the food security of its vast population and reiterated its commitment to assisting nations in need through exemptions from the ban.

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