The government on Tuesday formed a committee to estimate the import volume of essential commodities, including rice, wheat and sugar, from India to meet the local demand.
After assessing the import trend from India for the past 10 years, the import demand of essential commodities would be determined and then the government would request India to preserve the quota of the required amount for Bangladesh, a commerce ministry senior official said.
The five-member committee headed by commerce ministry additional secretary Noor Md Mahbubul Haq includes representatives from foreign ministry, agriculture ministry, food ministry and Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission.
Recently, Bangladesh has proposed that India should reserve quota for the export of seven essential commodities, including rice, wheat, sugar and onions.
Responding to the request from Bangladesh, the government of India wanted to know the actual demand for the commodities.
‘We have formed a committee to assess the import trend of essential commodities from India in recent years and based on the data the volume of the import demands for seven commodities would be determined,’ senior secretary to the commerce ministry Tapan Kanti Ghosh told New Age on Tuesday.
The committee has been asked to collect the exact data on import, production and consumption from the Bangladesh Bank, the agriculture ministry and the food ministry to determine the actual import amount of the commodities for Bangladesh from India, he said.
Tapan Kanti said that commerce minister Tipu Munshi during his India visit in December 22-23 submitted a proposal with quantities, seeking quota guarantee to import rice, wheat, sugar, onions, garlic, red lentil and ginger and the Indian authorities said that the requirements would have to be pragmatic.
‘In our proposal, the quantity of rice, wheat and sugar was very high as the estimation was based on the recent import trend,’ the commerce secretary said.
He said that import quota guarantee would not be ensured based on the recent unusual trend as Bangladesh’s imports of rice, wheat and sugar from India jumped in the financial year 2021-22 due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
After getting the report on import trend from the committee, the ministry would finalise the quantity and send it to the Indian authorities for quota guarantee.
According to the commerce ministry, Bangladesh proposed quota guarantee on the import of 20 lakh tonnes of rice, 15 lakh tonnes of sugar, 7 lakh tonnes of onions, 1.25 lakh tonnes of ginger, 30,000 tonnes of lentil and 10,000 tonnes of garlic.
Tapan Kanti said that the actual import demand for rice, wheat and sugar would come down substantially but the demand for other commodities would remain unchanged.
The commerce secretary also said that although Bangladesh wanted a quota for red lentil, the Indian government denied assuring the quota for the commodity.
According to Indian commerce department data, India became the major source of wheat and sugar for Bangladesh in FY22 due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
Data showed that Bangladesh’s wheat import volume from India grew by 241.70 per cent in FY22 while its import of raw sugar from that country jumped by 534.82 per cent in the period, compared with the previous financial year.
Indian financial year starts on April 1 and ends on March 31.
India’s wheat export to Bangladesh in 2021–22 went up to 40.82 lakh tonnes from 11.95 lakh tonnes a year ago, the data showed.
According to the Indian commerce department data, Bangladesh’s sugar import from India leaped by 534.82 per cent to 12.96 lakh tonnes in 2021–22 from 2.04 lakh tonnes in 2020–21.