WTO Member States Seek Clarification from India on the Duration of Wheat and Rice Export Bans
Updated: Sep 30
New Delhi, September 28, 2023 — India is under pressure from member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO), including the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan, to clarify the duration of its ongoing ban on non-basmati rice exports. Additionally, questions have been raised about the bans on wheat and broken rice exports, as India seeks to secure domestic food supplies and control rising food prices.
The ban on non-basmati rice exports, which was implemented in July 2022, has raised concerns among WTO member states. India's official stance on the ban has been to ensure adequate availability of non-basmati white rice in the domestic market and to mitigate rising prices. However, some member countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia, have expressed doubts about India's stated reasons.
In a joint statement submitted to the WTO's Committee of Agriculture (CoA), these countries questioned whether India truly faces a shortage of non-basmati white rice. Media reports have suggested that India currently possesses sufficient rice supplies to meet domestic demand. This inquiry comes as global rice prices have surged to a 15-year high due to India's export ban, affecting nearly half of the world's population that relies on rice as a staple food.
Meanwhile, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, Ukraine, and Japan have jointly sought an update from India on the bans regarding wheat and broken rice exports. These countries emphasize the need for transparency in the midst of a global food security crisis.
India's wheat export ban, initiated in May 2022, has been in effect for 16 months, while the ban on broken rice exports was put in place in September 2022. The concerned member states have expressed a desire to understand the intended duration of these measures, especially in light of the prolonged restrictions.
Furthermore, these nations have called on India to ensure that its export restrictions comply with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) rules and are genuinely temporary in nature. The request for transparency and adherence to international trade agreements underscores the importance of addressing the current food security challenges facing the global community.
India will have an opportunity to respond to these inquiries at the WTO's Committee of Agriculture meeting, which is scheduled for September 27 and 28. The outcome of this meeting will be closely watched as it may have far-reaching implications for international trade, food security, and the global rice market.
As India navigates these international pressures and concerns, it must balance its domestic food security needs with its role as a major player in the global agricultural trade landscape. The world waits to see how India will address these critical questions and concerns at the upcoming WTO meeting.