‘India to allow 25k-tonne onion export to Bangladesh on special consideration’

The Indian government is likely to grant its authorities a special permission to export 25,000 tonnes of onion to Bangladesh.

Diplomatic sources said the decision is likely to be announced tomorrow.

“The Indian government has decided to export 25,000 tonnes of onion to Bangladesh on special consideration. It is a special gesture to its closest friend,” a diplomatic source told The Daily Star today wishing anonymity.

The decision is likely to be made effective from today, the source added.

The Indian Directorate General of Foreign Trade last night issued a “Clarification on para 9.12 (B) of Handbook of Procedure on ‘Date of Shipment/Dispatch in respect of exports'”, which says “wherever procedural/policy provisions have been modified to disadvantage of exporters, the same shall not be applicable consignments already handed over to Customs…”

“This provision remains applicable wherever the conditions are met,” the clarification said. Diplomatic sources said the notification applies to some of the onion-laden trucks stranded at different points of the India-Bangladesh border, which will form part of the 25,000 tonnes.  

The country’s onion market became unstable as prices of the essential cooking item soared after India banned export of onion on September 14.

This was not the first instance of India banning onion export without any prior notice, and the prices in Bangladesh going up subsequently.

In late September last year, a similar ban was imposed by India, which had a rapid ripple effect. Onion prices in Bangladesh soared close to Tk 300 per kg from Tk 40.

In a letter to the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh on Tuesday, the Bangladesh foreign ministry said such sudden bans on onion exports was a matter of deep concern and it undermined the earlier discussions regarding restrictions over essential food items.

Meanwhile, retailers were selling each kg of onion at prices higher by Tk 10 to Tk 20 than the prices of wholesalers in Dhaka and Chattogram cities yesterday.

Consumers said some unscrupulous traders have jacked up the prices due to poor monitoring of markets by the administration.

At Khatunganj wholesale market in Chattogram, Indian onion was sold for Tk 60-70 per kg, but the variety was sold for Tk 70-90 per kg at retail markets in the city, reports our staff correspondent in the port city.