India Ships Wheat to Egypt, Receives Diplomatic Requests From 12 Countries

India has shipped 61,500 tonnes of wheat to Egypt, its largest overseas consignment since the country banned the staple export. At least a dozen countries have sent diplomatic requests for additional shipments, according to an official familiar with the situation who requested anonymity.

Following the ban, customs cleared 17,160 tonnes of wheat from the total shipment bound for Egypt. However, mandatory formalities, such as credit guarantees for the entire shipment, officially known as letters of credit, were secured before India’s export ban went into effect, according to the official.

Mera International Private Ltd, the shipper of the consignment bound for Egypt, was promptly granted customs clearances for a portion of wheat that was loaded after the ban went into effect and left Gujarat’s Kandla port on May 17.

On May 13, India, the world’s second-largest wheat grower, said it was suspending all private wheat exports to manage its “at-risk” food security while keeping a window open for overseas shipments on the specific request of a foreign government to “meet their food-security needs.” Wheat can only be exported by traders who obtained credit guarantees on or before May 13.

The official quoted above stated that India would consider shipment requests from foreign governments facing a severe food crisis in order to fulfil its “global commitments,” but declined to identify which countries had made diplomatic requests to the external affairs ministry for wheat imports. He stated that officials would meet to review the requests.

According to government estimates, India’s output of the staple will fall for the first time in five years, from an estimated 111 million tonne forecast in February to 105 million, a drop of at least 5.7 percent.

The country had already contracted to export 4.5 million tonnes before the export ban went into effect, as the government sought to increase overseas sales to fill a global void in wheat supplies caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. According to the government’s export notification, these sales will go through if formalities, such as letters of credit, have been issued.

In April 2022, the country’s traders exported 1.4 million tonnes, capitalizing on high global demand and prices. India exported a record 7.85 million tonnes in the fiscal year ending March, up 275 percent from the previous year.