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India ships wheat to Egypt post ban, gets diplomatic requests from 12 nations

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NEW DELHI : India has shipped 61,500 tonne wheat to Egypt, clearing its largest overseas consignment after the country imposed a ban on the staple export. At least a dozen countries have sent diplomatic requests for more shipments, an official aware of the development said, requesting anonymity.

Of the total shipment bound for Egypt, 17,160 tonne of wheat was cleared by customs post the ban. However, mandatory formalities, including credit guarantees for the entire shipment, officially called letters of credit, were secured before India’s export ban took effect, the official said.

The shipper of the consignment bound for Egypt, Mera International Private Ltd, was promptly given custom clearances for a portion of wheat that was loaded after the ban took effect and left Gujarat’s Kandla port on May 17.

India, the world’s second-largest wheat grower, on May 13 said it was suspending all private export of wheat to manage its food security which is “at risk”, keeping a window open for overseas shipments on the specific request of a foreign government to “meet their food-security needs”. Only traders who had secured credit guarantees on or before May 13 can export wheat.

The official quoted above said India would consider shipment requests by foreign government which face a dire food crisis and fulfill its “global commitments”, but declined to name which countries had put in diplomatic requests to the external affairs ministry for wheat imports. Officials are due to meet to review the requests, he said.

India is set to see a decline in output of the staple for the first time after five straight years of record harvests, from an estimated 111 million tonne forecast in February to 105 million, a drop of least 5.7%, according to government estimates.

Before the export ban took effect, the country had already contracted to export 4.5 million tonne as the government sought to ramp up overseas sales to plug a global void in wheat supplies due to Russia-Ukraine war. These sales will go through if formalities, such as letters of credit, have been issued, according to the government’s notification curbing export.

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