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Germany: G7 criticises India’ move to stop wheat exports

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Agriculture ministers from the Group -7 industrialised nations on Saturday, May 14, condemned India’s decision to ban unapproved wheat exports after the country was hit by a punishing heatwave. German agriculture minister Cem Ozdemir said, “If everyone starts to impose export restrictions or to close markets, that would worsen the crisis.”

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India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer, said factors including low wheat production and increasingly high global prices due to the war meant it was now worried about its “food security”.

India on Saturday banned the export of wheat without the government’s prior approval, after recent hot temperatures hit production, in a blow to countries hit by supply shortages due to the war in Ukraine.

All export deals agreed before the directive issued on Friday could still be honoured, but all future shipments needed to have government approval.

However, exports could also take place if New Delhi approved a request by other governments “to meet their food security needs.” The decision came as global agricultural markets were under severe stress due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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The traditional bread basket has seen shipments disrupted, with the Ukrainian agriculture minister travelling to Stuttgart for discussions with G7 colleagues on getting its produce out.

Some “20 million tonnes” of wheat were sitting in Ukrainian silos and “urgently” needed to be exported, Ozdemir said.

At this critical juncture, ministers of the G7 industrialised nations urged countries around the world not to take restrictive action that could pile further stress on the produce markets.

They “spoke out against export stops and call as well for markets to be kept open”, said Ozdemir, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the group. “We call on India to assume its responsibility as a G20 member,” Ozdemir added.

The agriculture ministers would also “recommend” the topic be addressed at the G7 summit in Germany in June, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to attend.

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Before the invasion, Ukraine exported 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural produce per month through its ports — 12 percent of the planet’s wheat, 15 percent of its corn and half of its sunflower oil.

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