Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said that India has implemented curbs on wheat exports to ensure food security for its own citizens as well as the agricultural commodity's equitable distribution among countries that were importing it.
"Our exports of wheat until two years ago were hardly under 200-300,000 tonnes. It's only two years ago that we went to 2 million and last year we did 7 million tonnes of wheat exports. That was the time our production was high and we had a moderate surplus that we could export. We are expecting a bumper harvest this year as well and to be able to continue the trend," Goyal said.
However, the heatwave in large parts of North India had led to a decline in production by 5-6 per cent, initial estimates have shown. Meanwhile, wheat exports in February and March in the last fiscal and April and May this year had skyrocketed.
"In April last year, we exported 240,000 metric tonnes. April 2022, we exported over 1.3 million metric tonnes; that's a 5-6X growth. Now with that kind of a change in the landscape, we felt that going forward, it could have a detrimental effect on our food inflation. Therefore, we thought the curbs would be good, considering the food security of India and, at the same time, to ensure the orderly distribution of grain that we are exporting," the minister told Business Today's Executive Director Rahul Kanwal during an exclusive interaction ahead of the World Economic Forum 2022 at Davos.
Giving the example of Indonesia's blanket ban on palm oil exports in April, Goyal said that it was an international practice.
On being asked about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical uncertainties on India's target to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024, the minister expressed confidence that the country would be able to quickly make up for the lost time. "We are seeing a lot of investment activity. For the seventh year in a row, we have a record FDI in India again. We have crossed $83 billion last year despite two waves of Covid, despite the war in Ukraine and that shows the world recognises that India is the place to be, India offers a stable future, a large market and talent that gives good outcomes," said Goyal.
Talking about the gains made in attracting foreign investments by countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam, Goyal said that while they were focused on attracting foreign capital in select sectors while India offered a whole bouquet. "In both cases, the advantage they have had so far was zero duty access for their exports into Europe and UK. For Bangladesh because it is a less developed country and for Vietnam because of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) they have with the EU. We in India have had challenges trying to get an FTA with these two geographies. But right now, we are in a very sweet spot as both EU and UK are engaged with us, especially after our success with Australia and the UAE."
Goyal is heading the Indian delegation comprising central ministers Mansukh Mandaviya and Hardeep Singh Puri, and chief ministers and senior ministers of six states, including Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana, to WEF 2022 from May 22-26.
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