G-7 likely to increase pressure on India to reverse wheat export ban

G-7 likely to increase pressure on India to reverse wheat export ban

India to participate in high level ministerial meeting on global food security

Members of the G-7 countries are expected to appeal to India to reverse the ban on wheat exports during the upcoming G-7 summit (June 26-28) in Germany which is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The information about the G-7’s stance towards the ban of wheat exports came as India sent Minister of State for External Affairs V Muralidharan to participate in a high-level ministerial meeting in New York on “Global Food Security – Call to Action”. Sources have told The Hindu that as the future G20 chair, India has important responsibilities to ensure food security especially in the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis that has disrupted global agriculture supply network.

The issue of India’s wheat export ban is likely to dominate at the global food security meeting which will be hosted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday at the UN.

The mood at the U.N. Security Council was conveyed by U.S. envoy to the UN, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield who said US is asking other countries to avoid stopping wheat exports and added, “India will be one of the countries participating in our meeting at the Security Council, and we hope that they can, as they hear the concerns being raised by other countries, that they would reconsider that position”.

The consultation between India and the G7 countries will continue in the run up to the summit in Germany. Dammu Ravi, Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs will participate in the G-7 development ministers meeting on Wednesday in Berlin where the issue of food security is expected to dominate. The meeting is likely to produce a proposal but India may not endorse the document.

The Government had prohibited export of wheat on May 13 in view of the sudden spike in prices of wheat in the domestic market. The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), the leading farmers outfit has alleged that the traders began hoarding wheat sensing export opportunity in the international market as the Russian attack on Ukraine from February 24 crippled the latter’s agriculture sector. Absence of Ukraine’s wheat created a vacuum that the hoarders hoped to fill with Indian wheat. “The Government did not act to stop the private traders from hoarding, but woke up when prices went up because of fear of scarcity in the domestic market more than two months later,” said Yudhvir Singh of BKU who accused the Indian Government of being unaware of the impact of the Ukraine crisis on India’s agriculture sector.

India’s wheat export ban has shocked the global agriculture market but G-7 countries hope that the ban would be ultimately reversed as it is necessary for Delhi to play a greater role in ensuring global food security. During the pandemic, India had banned export of medicines like paracetamol but had reversed the export ban subsequently, and it is understood that in the similar way, the Government would reverse the wheat export ban once prices stabilise at home.

The hint of the coming pressure from the G-7 was felt by the Indian side during the recently concluded Prime Ministerial visit to Germany, Denmark and France when the talks with the counterparts were “dominated” by the Ukraine crisis. Sources said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was keen to know about the timespan that the war is likely to take. Both India and Germany also discussed agriculture cooperation including in third countries like Malawi and Cameroon in Africa. The two sides had discussed a universal employment guarantee scheme in Peru.

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