Wednesday, 6 July, 2022

Govt mulls importing wheat from five other countries

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has said the government plans to import wheat from five other countries after India slapped a ban on wheat export.  

He informed this in a meeting with Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters’ Forum (BSRF) at the Secretariat on Monday.

"We have already engaged in talks with Canada among other countries that we are trying to reach out for wheat import," Tipu Munshi said.

Earlier this week, India – the world's second-biggest wheat producer - banned wheat exports to curb rising domestic prices and address the needs of neighbouring and vulnerable countries.

Tipu Munshi hopes that India will reconsider their decision on wheat export.

Bangladesh is the top destination of India’s wheat exports. India exported 1,157,399 tonnes of wheat worth $299.4 million to Bangladesh in 2020-21 constituting 55.4 percent in terms of the total volume of India's total wheat exports.

In reply to a query on the recovery of a huge volume of hoarded edible oil, Tipu Munshi said they made a mistake by not fixing the pieces of edible oil in line with the international market prices in the last two months.

 “Edible oil prices in the international markets increased in the last two months, but we did not adjust the prices for the local markets,” Munshi said.

“Businesses knew that the prices will rise after the Eid-ul Fitr and they took the chance of hoarding it,” Munshi added.

On the drive against hoarders, he said the government does not want to create any situation that can destabilise the market.

“We want to keep the market situation stable instead of controlling it by creating panic,” Munshi said.

The commerce minister also said that the Russia-Ukraine war has created an adverse impact on the global commodity prices, which have impacted food prices in Bangladesh.

He said a more challenging time is ahead but there is nothing to be worried about. “We have to be economical amid this situation,” he added. Some people fear that the situation may take a Sri Lanka-like turn but there is no chance here, Munshi said, adding that Bangladesh itself has given a loan to Sri Lanka.

Regarding onion price, he said the agriculture ministry has stopped importing onion so that the farmers get a fair price, he said.

The decision has been taken so that farmers can sell per kg of onion at Tk 25 and consumers will buy it at Tk 45 per kg, he said.

Meanwhile, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) sales targetting one crore people will begin next month as planned, the minister confirmed.

Regarding the export target, the commerce minister noted the export target for this year as $60 billion, while for 2024; it has been set at $80 billion.

As the demand for apparel products increases, the commerce minister said that there is a plan to raise the number of the country's ready-made garments industry labours to five million from the four million current RMG workforces.