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India relaxes wheat order, allows export of shipments booked before May 13 ban

According to the Commerce Ministry statement, the government also allowed a wheat shipment headed for Egypt, which was already under loading at the Kandla port.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: May 18, 2022 8:18:57 am
wheat production punjabExport of all wheat, including high-protein durum and normal soft bread varieties, were moved from “free” to the “prohibited” category. (Representational Photo)

With wheat trucks and ships stranded at ports after a ban on wheat export, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry announcing some relaxations for traders on Tuesday said that the consignments handed over and registered with Customs on or prior to May 13 — the day India banned the export — shall be allowed to be exported.

“The government has announced some relaxation to its order dated 13th May issued by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Department of Commerce on restricting wheat exports. It has been decided that wherever wheat consignments have been handed over to Customs for examination and have been registered into their systems on or prior to 13.5.2022, such consignments would be allowed to be exported,” the ministry said in a statement.

The DGFT also sent a communication to all its regional authorities and Customs Commissionerates informing them about the relaxations.

The government’s move came on a day when The Indian Express reported that over 4,000 wheat-laden trucks were stuck in a queue outside Kandla port and four ships, half loaded with wheat and no order to sail, were also stranded at the port.

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According to sources, DGFT has given permission to four ships stranded at the port to export wheat. A quantity of 1,67,211 tonnes was to be loaded on these ships but as soon the ban came into force, the loading was stopped. Till then, only 80,368 tonnes of wheat could be loaded on these ships. These ships will carry wheat to Brazil, Bangladesh, Oman and Indonesia.

According to the Commerce Ministry statement, the government also allowed a wheat shipment headed for Egypt, which was already under loading at the Kandla port.

“This followed a request by the Egyptian government to permit the wheat cargo being loaded at the Kandla port…,” the statement said, adding that the government decided to permit the full consignment of 61,500 MT and allowed it to sail from Kandla to Egypt. Egypt has agreed to buy 5 lakh tonnes of wheat from India.

In wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, the demand for Indian wheat has increased overseas. In the current financial year 2022-2023, the government estimates about 45 lakh metric tonnes of wheat to have been contracted for exports. Of this, 14.63 lakh metric tonnes have been exported till April 2022, higher than 2.43 lakh metric tonnes exported in April 2021.

Wheat production in India is expected to be lower than the earlier estimates. In February this year, the government estimated wheat production to reach 111 million tonnes, which was revised to 105-106 million tonnes.

Due to a lower production and a higher demand from the private buyers, the government’s procurement of wheat for the PDS is also expected to be much lower this year. The government is expected to procure only 195 lakh metric tonnes, which is less than half of the grain quantity—433 lakh metric tonnes —procured last year.

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