Indian rice exporters body seeks different HSN code for Sona Masuri variety, floor price

The Rice Exporters Association (TREA) has urged Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to allow the export of Sona Masuri variety white rice under a different harmonized system of nomenclature (HSN) code besides fixing a minimum export price (MEP) of $1,000 a tonne.

In a letter to Goyal, TREA President BV Krishna Rao said the July 20 ban on the export of white rice from the country will result in the shipments of the cereals dropping to 10 million tonnes (mt) from 17.29 mt of non-basmati white, parboiled and broken rice exported in 2022-23.

Since Sona Masuri falls under the white rice category, the export ban applies to the variety. ‘We request for HSN code differentiation for Sona Masuri to support the Indian diaspora who require rice urgently,’ Rao said in his letter.

While fixing an MEP of $1,000/tonne, the Centre could also fix an export cap of 1 mt. This will help the government accommodate the diaspora supporting the country in all respects, the TREA president said. 

Rao sought transitional arrangements for exporters who have letters of credit (LoC) so that they can be saved from international arbitration.

‘Many exporters have export contracts and white rice stocks which are verifiable need to be allowed (to be shipped,’ he said. 

Any further ban will damage the country’s reputation abroad and take a long time to restore the markets. 

The Centre should review the ban once rice prices are under control and rainfall improves since African nations and the Indian diaspora are the main consumers, he said. 

The Centre banned white rice exports on July 20 as its prices began to rise in the country following a shortage of paddy, and the area under paddy cultivation lagged due to deficient rains in the growing regions.

As of July 28, the coverage of paddy was 4.23 lakh hectares (lh) higher at 237.58 lh, but the area is lower in key States such as Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. 

Rice stocks, as of July 1, were at a six-year low of 25.35 mt. Besides, the Food Corporation of India held 29.3 mt of unmilled paddy (19;63 mt rice). 

The Centre banned the export of white rice as its measures to curb shipments last year by imposing a 20 per cent export duty did not yield the desired results. Exports increased despite the duty, and this year, monthly shipments exceeded 5 lakh tonnes from 4 lakh tonnes a year ago.

Besides, according to analysts, rice prices in the global market soared to a five-year high forcing India to take measures to protect its food security, according to analysts. 

This article has been republished from The Hindu Business Line

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