India Defends Its Decision To Ban Rice, Wheat Exports At WTO
India has cited domestic food security as the reason to curb rice and wheat exports to the rest of the world.
India has defended its decision to ban exports of wheat and rice at the World Trade Organization, even as some member countries flagged concerns over the country's stand, according to an official.
At a WTO meeting in Geneva, Senegal, last week, the United States and the European Union raised questions over this decision, stating it could have adverse implications on global markets. In response, India said the ban on export of broken rice--used as poultry feed--followed a rise in the grain's exports in recent months that put pressure on the domestic market. In the case of wheat, food security concerns necessitated export curbs.
“India has also stated that the (export ban) measures are temporary in nature and under continuous monitoring,” the official said.
In May, India restricted exports of wheat to enhance domestic availability. This month, it also banned exports of broken rice and imposed 20% export duty on non-basmati rice, except for parboiled rice, to boost local supplies. The move came amid a decline in kharif cultivation this year.
Senegal, a major importer of India's broken rice and other rice products, urged India to keep trade open in these difficult times to ensure food sufficiency, the official cited above said.
At the meeting, Thailand, Australia, Uruguay, the US, Australia, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Paraguay and Japan requested for consultations with India regarding the use of the peace clause to protect its food programmes against action from trade disputes.
In April, India invoked the peace clause, for the third time, for exceeding the 10% ceiling on support it offers to rice farmers. It informed the WTO that it has used the peace clause to provide excess support measures to rice farmers for marketing year 2020-21 in order to meet needs of its poor.
Under the peace clause, WTO member countries refrain from challenging any breach in the prescribed subsidy ceiling given by a developing nation at the dispute settlement forum of WTO. Subsidies over and above the prescribed ceiling are seen as trade distortion. The limit is fixed at 10% of the value of food production for developing countries like India.
India has strongly pitched for finding a permanent solution to the issue, but there has been no progress so far.