NEW DELHI

India’s rice export ban a temporary move

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: India and Vietnam have indicated that their independent restrictions on the export of certain varieties of rice are “temporary, short-term management tools that they need for their own particular situations,” according to the Association of South East Asian Nations Secretary General, Surin Pitsuwan.

India, a major dialogue partner of the ASEAN, and Vietnam, a member of the 10-nation group, rank next only to Thailand, another member of this association, as the world’s three largest rice-exporters.

Answering questions on the current concerns about food security, Mr. Surin said here that “all the countries in the [East Asia Summit] region, particularly the rice-producers, pledge to follow free trade in food and agricultural commodities.” India, a key member of this Summit, “has expressed interest, too,” in joining the other members to address “the highly volatile fluctuation of prices of staple foods, of commodities such as rice.” An existing East Asia Rice Reserve has been built by the ASEAN members and three of their major dialogue partners — China, Japan, and South Korea.

About the ASEAN sub-region, he said “we have enough food, enough energy; it is the problem of management, of delivery and of external pressure [through] speculation about the prices.”

Speaking at the Thomson Reuters Newsmaker event, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is also the ASEAN and East Asia Summit Chairman, alluded to India and Vietnam while noting that “several of the countries have said that they are going to ban the export of various categories of rice.”

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