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India bans onion export to Bangladesh yet again

  • Published at 08:58 pm September 14th, 2020
India bans onion export to Bangladesh yet again
The last batch of onion-laden trucks remain parked at Hili land port before the Indian government decided to ban exports of all types of onions to Bangladesh on Monday, September 14, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

The ban comes close to a year after India announced its move of not exporting onions in 2019

The Indian government on Monday banned exports of all types of onions to Bangladesh, citing a shortage in supply in India itself due to heavy rainfall and floods.

The ban comes close to a year after India announced its move of not exporting onions in 2019.

India banned onion exports on September 29 last year, a move that led to a skyrocketing of prices of the key cooking ingredient to a historic high of as much as  Tk250 per kilogram in Bangladesh.

Shankar Das, a clearing and forwarding (C&F) agent in Hili (India), said onion production had been disrupted due to recent heavy rains and floods in various parts of India, as a result of which prices of the bulb had increased in the Indian market.

In light of the situation, the Indian government on Monday noon instructed the Hili (India) Customs office to stop exporting onions to Bangladesh, he added.

According to him, the customs authorities informed all C&F agents there that no types of onion exports would proceed until further orders.

At the same time, onions would not be exported against the letters of credit (LCs) that were opened for onion import, as well as for those whose tender processes had been completed, he added.

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Saiful Islam and Harun-ur-Rashid, onion importers at Hili land port in Dinajpur, said: “Indian exporters and C&F agents told us that India would not export any onions, not even for those whose LCs were opened or tender processes completed."

However, they also suspected a strategy to increase the export price of the essential cooking ingredient.

“Many of our importers have LCs open for importing huge quantities of onions. We are in trouble now. Our trucks are loaded with onions ready. Those also remain stranded, putting our business in jeopardy," they stated.

Meanwhile, no  truck carrying onions have entered Bangladesh through Benapole in Jessore and Bhomra port in Satkhira since yesterday morning.

According to a source in the Indian port of Petrapole, the Indian onion exporters' association stopped exporting onions through all ports of the country soon after 50 tons of onions entered through Benapole port in the morning.

Kartik Chandra Ghosh, general secretary of Petrapole C&F Staff Welfare in India, said the onion exporters' association had decided not to export onions below $750 per ton to Bangladesh.

That is why more than a hundred onion-laden vehicles remained stranded at Petrapole port, he added.

Benapole Customs House Commissioner Azizur Rahman confirmed to Dhaka Tribune that India had stopped exporting onions to Bangladesh without any prior announcement.

There is no alternative to compromise in mutual trade. They could have given time to onion importers without stopping exports of the item. “It was not right to go for such a sudden decision,” he remarked.