By Shashank Mattoo
Measures like India’s July rice export ban had a negative impact on Singapore, said a top Singaporean official, whose country is a major food importer from India.
“For us, the ability to import food is very important. I would say that something like India’s rice export ban has a negative impact,” Tze Ch’in Ong, deputy secretary at Singapore’s Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment told Mint .
In 2022, the city-state imported around 40% of its rice from India.
Ong, who will take over as the head of Singapore’s powerful Public Utilities Board, said Singapore had opted for a strategy of diversification by relying on other countries like Vietnam and Thailand to minimize shocks from moves like India’s.
The Singapore Food Agency said in July, “Singapore has a multi-pronged strategy of import diversification and stockpiling to manage supply chain disruptions to rice imports. We diversify and import rice from over 30 countries.”
However, Ong also stated that the country was thankful for India’s decision to grant it an export waiver in August. India announced that an export quota of 50,000 tonnes of non-basmati white rice would be allocated for Singapore.
“Just in the last few months, the Indian government has said that, in view of the long standing relationship with Singapore, they have a scheme where they will allow for a certain amount of exports. We are very thankful for the Indian government’s support in that,” said Ong.
Mint has reported that the Philippines and Indonesia have also requested similar waivers from India.
The 20 July move to curb exports of non-basmati white rice had caused an impact on rice prices in global markets.
A number of India’s neighbours, including Bangladesh and Nepal, are heavily dependent on Indian rice exports, while some African countries are purchasers of broken rice.
“To ensure adequate availability of non-basmati white rice in the Indian market and to allay the rise in prices in the domestic market, the government of India has amended the export policy of the above variety from ‘free with export duty of 20%’ to ‘prohibited’ with immediate effect,” the government had announced in July.
The move was seen as an effort to contain food price inflation, which had risen considerably. This is especially important given the important state and general elections that are slated to occur within the next year.
This article has been republished from The Mint