India to Extend Rice Export Restrictions

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NEW DELHI, Nov 19: India, the world’s leading rice exporter, is expected to prolong its restrictions on overseas sales, potentially keeping the staple grain at near-record price levels. Over the past decade, India has been a major global rice shipper, accounting for almost 40% of the total, with African nations such as Benin and Senegal among the top buyers. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, facing reelection next year, has consistently tightened export restrictions to control domestic price increases and protect Indian consumers. According to Sonal Varma, chief economist for India and Asia ex-Japan at Nomura Holdings Inc., these restrictions are likely to persist as long as domestic rice prices continue to rise, even after the elections

The government of India has imposed export duties and minimum prices, and certain rice varieties cannot be exported. Consequently, prices surged to a 15-year high in August, with some vulnerable importing nations holding back purchases. The potential impact of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which typically affects crops across Asia, may further tighten the global rice market, especially as world stockpiles are on track for a third consecutive annual decline. The Indian government aims to ensure sufficient supplies domestically and to mitigate price increases, particularly to support the country’s free food program, which benefits over 800 million people. While these measures may benefit Indian consumers, they could have adverse effects on vulnerable populations in other regions, such as Africa and Asia, where billions depend on a plentiful global rice supply

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