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UAE suspends re-exports of Indian wheat, as global shortages loom

NEW DELHI, INDIA - MAY 17: A worker unload wheat grain from a trailer at a wholesale grain market in New Delhi, India on May 17, 2022. The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry has banned the export of wheat amid continued inflationary pressure. The government had earlier set a target to export 10 million tonnes of grain in 2022-23. Wheat prices have been rising internationally on account of supply shortages due to Russia-Ukraine war. ( Amarjeet Kumar Singh - Anadolu Agency )
A worker unload wheat grain from a trailer at a wholesale grain market in New Delhi, India on May 17, 2022 [Amarjeet Kumar Singh - Anadolu Agency]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has suspended the export and re-export of wheat from India for a four-month period, amid the global food crisis and shortages of the essential commodity.

According to the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) on Wednesday, the UAE's Ministry of Economy ordered that all wheat products and varieties – "namely hard, ordinary and soft wheat and wheat flour" – originating from India will be prevented from export or re-export.

Any company which does wish to export Indian wheat out of the UAE, the order states, must submit a request to the ministry and send a number of documents including files for the shipment regarding its origin and date of transaction.

The ministry's announcement came a month after India banned the export of its wheat to countries worldwide, as a measure to preserve its product for domestic use amid the global shortages of the commodity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and especially Russia's invasion of Ukraine – both countries which together export a total of around 30 per cent of the world's wheat supply.

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A number of countries were exempt from that ban, however, such as those which either had notable existing deals with India and countries which were at risk of serious shortages. Nations exempt from the ban include Egyptand Oman, with the UAE still in talks with India regarding an exemption.

According to media reports, Abu Dhabi attained $146 million worth of wheat from Russia in 2020. Now, with the ongoing war in Ukraine and the obstacles to Russian wheat supplies, India has reportedly filled in that void.

The reason for the Emirates' rule to suspend the re-export of Indian grain, then, is primarily to maintain the wheat supplies within the UAE itself and to adhere to New Delhi's conditions. According to trade sources cited by the Indian Express, "India doesn't want its wheat exported to Dubai or Abu Dhabi to go out to other countries, whether as grain or flour. It would want that wheat to be consumed locally, including the migrant Indian workers in UAE".

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