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US urges India to reverse ban on wheat exports

A labourer prepares to load a sack of wheat in a customer´s vehicle at a wholesale grain market in Ghaziabad on May 17, 2022. India´s wheat production has been hit by searing temperatures — the country recorded its warmest March on record — prompting the government to predict output would fall at least 5% this year from 109 million tonnes in 2021. -AFP  

United Nations, United States: The United States hopes India will reverse its ban on wheat exports, Washington’s top diplomat to the United Nations said Monday, warning the move would worsen global shortages of the commodity.

“We’re encouraging countries not to restrict exports because we think any restrictions on exports will exacerbate the food shortages,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during a ministerial gathering on food security ahead of a meeting of the UN Security Council.

The UN meeting — to be chaired by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken — will include Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, India’s minister of state for external affairs.

India holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

“We hope that (India) can, as they hear the concerns being raised by other countries, that they would reconsider that position,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

India, the world’s second-largest producer of wheat, on Saturday announced it would ban exports without special authorisation from the government in the face of falling production caused primarily by an extreme heatwave.

New Delhi — which had previously pledged to supply wheat to countries once dependent on exports from Ukraine — said it wanted to ensure “food security” for India’s 1.4 billion people.

Blinken is on Wednesday set to hold another UN meeting also related to food security.

That session aims to “bring countries together to look at what countries might be able to help fill the gap” in wheat supplies caused by Russia´s invasion of Ukraine — two major exporters of the commodity, said Thomas-Greenfield.

The talks would also identify “countries who need the support from countries who can fill the gap,” she added.

The United States could be included in these countries, she said, adding that discussions were already underway with American farmers on the topic.

Wheat prices hit a record high in the European market Monday in the wake of India’s decision.

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