Heatwave-hit India irks G7 with wheat export ban
NEW DELHI, May 14: India banned wheat exports without government approval Saturday after its hottest March on record hit production, in a blow to countries reeling from supply shortages and soaring prices since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The announcement drew sharp criticism from the Group of Seven industrialised nations' agriculture ministers meeting in Germany, who said that such measures "would worsen the crisis" of rising commodity prices.
"If everyone starts to impose export restrictions or to close markets, that would worsen the crisis," German Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir said at a press conference in Stuttgart.
Global wheat prices have
soared on supply fears following Russia's February invasion of Ukraine, which previously accounted for 12 percent of global exports.
The spike in prices, exacerbated by fertiliser shortages and poor harvests, has fuelled inflation globally and raised fears of famine and social unrest in poorer countries.
It has also led to concerns about growing protectionism following Indonesia's halting of palm oil exports and India putting the brakes on exports of wheat.
India, the world's second-largest wheat producer, said that factors including lower production and sharply higher global prices meant it worried about the food security of its own 1.4 billion people.
Export deals agreed before the directive issued Friday could still be honoured, but future shipments need government approval, it said.
But exports could also take place if New Delhi approved requests from other governments "to meet their food security needs". -AFP