India curbs onion shipments by imposing minimum export price

Monday, 16 September 2019 00:53 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MUMBAI (Reuters): India has imposed an $ 850 per ton minimum export price (MEP) on onion shipments, the government said on Friday, as the world’s biggest exporter tries to calm local prices ahead of key state elections. 

The higher export price will help India’s rivals China, Egypt and Pakistan raise shipments to buyers such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka.

Wholesale prices in India’s largest onion trading hub, Lasalgaon in the western state of Maharashtra, have nearly doubled in a month to 29,500 rupees ($ 416) per ton.

Ajit Shah, president of the Mumbai-based Onion Exporters’ Association, said the government set export price was too high and no one would buy from India at this price. “China, Egypt and Pakistan are offering onions at much lower prices. Buyers will switch towards these suppliers,” he said.

Onions are used as the base for traditional dishes across Asia such as biryani in Pakistan and India, belacan in Malaysia and fish curry in Bangladesh. In June, India withdrew 10% export incentives on onions after prices started to rise due to dwindling supplies from last year’s harvest and a delay in planting of the summer-sown crop.

Onion prices could start moderating from November with the arrival of the new season crop, said a Mumbai-based exporter, who declined to be named.

“The government will remove restrictions once prices fall below 15,000 rupees per ton,” he said.

India exported 2.2 million tons of fresh onions in the 2018/19 fiscal year ended 30 March.