India exempts Singapore from rice export ban, cites "very close strategic partnership"
In 2022, India accounted for about 40% of Singapore's rice imports
India has exempted Singapore from the rice export ban which was imposed recently, citing a "very close strategic partnership" and "food security requirements".
Providing this information late on Tuesday (August 28, 2023) evening in response to media queries, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "India and Singapore enjoy a very close strategic partnership, characterized by shared interests, close economic ties and strong people to people connect".
"In view of this special relationship, India has decided to allow export of rice to meet the food security requirements of Singapore," he added. The MEA Spokesperson said that formal orders in this regard would be issued "shortly", he said. There was, however, no mention of the quantity of rice that could be exported to Singapore.
Recent news reports have cited figures given by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) to say that in 2022, India accounted for about 40% of Singapore's rice imports. Singapore imports rice from more than 30 countries.
The Indian government had prohibited the export of ‘non-Basmati white rice’ on July 20, 2023, saying this was necessary to ensure adequate availability in the Indian market and to check domestic prices which were on an increasing trend. Retail prices of rice had increased by 11.5% over a year and 3% over the past month, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution had said.
According to government data, ‘non-Basmati white rice’ constitutes about 25% of the total rice exported from the country.
These curbs were further strengthened on Monday (August 28, 2023) and the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) was instructed to introduce “additional safeguards” to prevent the possible illegal exports of non-Basmati white rice in the garb of Basmati rice.
According to the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, which issued the latest instructions, international rice prices have been rising continuously since last year due to strong demand from Asian buyers, production disruptions registered in 2022/23 in some major producing countries like Thailand, and fears of possible adverse effects of the onset of El Nino.
The FAO Rice Price Index reached 129.7 points in July 2023; its highest value since September 2011, registering an increase of 19.7% over past year levels. As the prices of Indian rice are still cheaper than the international prices, there has been a strong demand for Indian rice, resulting in record exports during 2021-22 and 2022-23, the ministry explained.