Last week, the Indian government amended the export policy of wheat by putting its export under the “prohibited” category. The order that was rolled out by the Ministry of Commerce stated that the government has banned the wheat exports with “immediate effect”.
But what came as surprise amid this report was the Chinese state media’s defence of India after criticism from Group of Seven (G7) nations. Global Times (GT), a Chinese government outlet said, “Blaming India won’t solve the food problem.”
“Now, the agriculture ministers from G7 urge India not to ban wheat exports, then why won’t G7 nations themselves move to stabilize food market supply by hiking their exports?” asked an editorial published in GT.
“Although India is the second-largest wheat producer in the world, it accounts for only a small part of global wheat exports. By contrast, some developed economies, including the US, Canada, the EU and Australia, are among major exporters of wheat,” it added.
According to the GT, if some Western countries decide to reduce wheat exports in the wake of a potential global food crisis, they will be in no position to criticize India, a country that faces pressure to secure its own food supply.
The article argued that G7 countries were welcome to join the efforts in tackling the global food crisis and advised against criticizing India and other developing countries.
India on its part issued a press statement on Saturday where it said the decision to restrict wheat exports will control food prices and strengthen the food security of India and countries facing a deficit, and that India remains a reliable supplier as it is honouring all contracts.
Speaking at a press conference with Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary Department of Food and Consumer Affairs, and Manoj Ahuja, Secretary Agriculture, the Commerce Secretary said that all exports orders where the letter of credit has been issued would be fulfilled.
He added that directing the wheat exports through government channels would not only ensure fulfilling the genuine needs of our neighbours and food-deficit countries but also control inflationary expectations.
Talking about the availability of wheat, Commerce secretary Subrahmanyam said, “Apart from the food security of India, the Government is committed to ensuring food security of neighbours and vulnerable countries,” he said.
He said that the control order serves three main purposes: “It maintains the food security for the country, it helps others who are in distress, and maintains India’s reliability as a supplier,” he said.