India denies media reports, says it is not considering export tax on parboiled rice variety

India is not considering imposing any restrictions on the exports of non-basmati parboiled rice, Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said on Tuesday. News agency Bloomberg earlier reported that India was considering imposing an export tax on parboiled rice variety.

Currently, there are no restrictions on the exports of parboiled rice, which constitutes nearly a third of India’s total rice exports.

“There is no proposal as of now to restrict parboiled rice exports,” Chopra said in response to questions about whether India was considering imposing an export tax or introducing a floor price for parboiled rice exports.

Chopra also said there is no proposal as of now to import wheat from Russia via diplomatic deals. Last week government sources told Reuters that India is in talks with Russia to import wheat at a discount to surging global prices in a rare move to boost supplies and curb food inflation ahead of state and national elections next year.

The Narendra Modi-led government had last month surprised buyers by imposing a ban on the export of widely consumed non-basmati white rice. In a bid to curb inflation within the food basket, the government imposed a 40% levy on the export of onions recently.

India’s inflation has surged to a 15-month high, building urgency for the government to take measures to contain spiraling food prices. Modi in a speech to the nation on Aug. 15 vowed to fight inflation as he prepares to return to office for a third term in national elections next year.

Ample monsoon rains have accelerated the planting of summer-sown rice in India, according to the latest farm ministry data, after a slow start to the sowing season that began in June. An increase in rice planting in India, the world’s second-biggest producer of the grain, will ease concerns that supplies could be squeezed after New Delhi, in a surprise move late last month, ordered a halt to its largest rice export category.

India’s decision to ban overseas shipments of non-basmati white rice pushed prices to multi-year highs, as trade and industry officials believe shipments by the world’s largest exporter of the grain could be halved.

Rice prices soared to the highest levels in almost 15 years in Asia on mounting concerns over global supplies as dry weather threatens production in Thailand and after top shipper India banned some exports, media reports said.

Thai white rice 5 per cent broken, an Asian benchmark, jumped to $648 a tonne, the most expensive since October 2008, according to data from the Thai Rice Exporters Association, Bloomberg reported.

That brings the increase in prices to almost 50 per cent in the past year.

Rice is vital to the diets of billions of people in Asia and Africa, and the surge in prices could add to inflationary pressures and boost import bills for buyers, the report said.

This article has been republished from The Economic Times

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