Indian team to visit Iran on October 6 to clinch wheat export deal

By Economic Times

NEW DELHI: A government delegation will visit sanctions-hit Iran on October 6 to clinch a wheat export deal, a senior official said today.

India lifted ban on wheat exports in September 2011 on account of record production in two consecutive years. Iran, on the other hand, has not been importing Indian wheat since 1996 due to quality issues.

“A 10-member team from India will visit Iran on October 6. The team will stay in Tehran for two days to negotiate wheat exports,” the official told PTI.

The delegation, headed by a senior Commerce Ministry official, will have members from ministries such as Food and Agriculture besides officials from the state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI), he said.

Due to drought in Russia, Iran has evinced interest in buying wheat from India on a long-term basis. But the west Asian country has not made clear whether it will relax quality norms for Indian wheat, sources said.

“The issues related to quality as well as the price will be discussed with Tehran officials,” a source said.

India could offer to sell to Iran minimum one million tonnes of wheat a year through diplomatic channel but at a commercial price of not less than $ 300 a tonne, the source added.

A few months ago, the sanctions-hit Iran had sent a delegation to India to check the quality of Indian wheat. It had also taken wheat samples for quality analysis.

Recently, Food Minister K V Thomas had said, “Iran had taken samples and has responded positively. It is interested to import wheat from India on a long-term basis.”

The global prices are very high and 1-2 million tonnes of wheat can go this year, he had said.

Export of wheat to Iran will not only help India partly settle its oil dues, but also reduce its surplus foodgrainstocks in its godown.

Due to the bumper crop, the government godowns are overflowing with foodgrains stock of 76 million tonnes, as against the storage capacity of 71.4 million tonnes.

To clear space, the government has allowed export of 2 million tonnes of wheat from central stocks and shipments are taking place steadily. Through private trade, over 1.5 million tonnes of wheat has been exported so far.

Last year, the country had harvested a record 93.90 million tonnes of wheat due to good monsoon.


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