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WTO: US calls India’s rice ban ‘Unnecessary’, India says food security priority

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BERLIN : US called India’s export ban on non-basmati rice an “unnecessary trade barrier” while asking for its immediate withdrawal at the WTO agricultural committee meeting. India countered this by saying that the new ban was a regulation rather than a restriction, which was crucial for the food security of its 1.4 billion people.

“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,” a Geneva-based trade official told.

A group of WTO members led by the US said that India’s export ban had a detrimental impact on countries heavily reliant on imports, particularly during times of crisis, as it accounted for roughly 40% of global exports. The other members questioning India included Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand, Switzerland, Thailand and the UK.

India currently has restrictions of varying degrees on all varieties of rice that it ships overseas. The Union government in July had placed a ban on export of non-basmati rice, followed by a $1200-price floor on the export of Basmati rice and a 20% duty on export of parboiled rice in August. India had also banned overseas sales of the broken variety last year.

However, at the time of banning non-basmati rice export, the Union government had said that some shipments would be allowed  on request to meet the food security needs of other countries.

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