New Delhi: Bangladesh has expressed deep concern with India over the Indian government’s sudden ban on onion exports as prices rose sharply earlier this week.
On Monday, the central government banned all onion exports with immediate effect after the wholesale market price of Maharashtra Lalsalgaon rose beyond Rs 30 per kg.
According to Bangladeshi media reports, the foreign ministry has sent a demarche to the Indian High Commission on Tuesday pointing the finger from New Delhi for not keeping Dhaka in the cycle.
The last unexpected announcement of the Government of India on September 14, 2020 undermines the discussion “which took place in 2019 and 2020 between two friendly countries on the issue and shared understanding,” reads the letter from the Bangladesh Foreign Office.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister M. Shahriar Alam told reporters on Tuesday that there had been an unwritten understanding that India would inform Bangladesh in advance while taking any decision on such a ban, as set out by Dhaka Tribune.
This was also mentioned in the letter from the foreign ministry, which noted that the Indian announcement directly affects the supply of essential food items in the Bangladesh market.
Referring to the India-Bangladesh trade secretaries meeting in January this year, the letter recalled that Bangladeshi officials had asked their counterparts not to impose export restrictions on essential food items required in Bangladesh. They had also explicitly asked India to inform them in advance of plans to impose any more restrictions in the future.
At the time, Dhaka was still far from banning the export of onions placed from India in September 2019. This decision led to onions receiving prices of over 300 taka (Rs 260) in Bangladesh last year.
During her visit to India last October, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikha Hasina had also raised the issue regarding the immediate ban on onions. We are facing some problems due to the ban on onion exports from India. I do not know why you have stopped these exports. It would have been better if you had warned us in advancewe could have onion sources from other countries. You stopped it suddenly and it became a problem for us, ”she said at the India-Bangladesh Business Forum on October 4, 2019.
Prime Minister Hasina’s personal request to inform Dhaka before a possible ban was also mentioned in the letter from the foreign offices to the Indian High Commission.
Meanwhile, the Bangladeshi government has decided to import onions from multiple sources to ensure sufficient supply of the main cooking ingredient in local markets.
According to Dhaka Tribune, onion prices rose to over 120 taka per kg (104 Rs per kg) as news of India’s ban in the country spread. The newspaper also reported that most of the shops ran out of onions as people rushed to collect the vegetables.
In order to curb the price increase, the Bangladeshi government corporation was selling onions through trucks at a rate of 30 heels per kg. However, with uninterrupted queues and spiral demands, the Bangladesh Trading Corporation had to reduce its onion ration from two kilograms to 1 kg per customer.
The Bangladeshi government has said it will import onions from Turkey and Egypt. However, the first shipment would arrive in Chittagong port only in early October.
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