India eases cement exports,stays curbs on rice (Lead)

May 27th, 2008 - 8:39 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) The ban on cement exports imposed last month is being lifted given the slack season ahead, but restrictions on shipping rice outside will continue, India’s Commerce Secretary G.K. Pillai said here Tuesday. “June and July is the monsoon period. Nobody constructs houses in this period,” Pillai told reporters on the margins of a conference on global trade talks organised by the International Chamber of Commerce.

The commerce secretary, however, added that such exports would be permitted only from the ports in Gujarat and two million tonnes of cement were expected to be shipped out as the result of the government’s move.

Earlier, Pillai said India has no plans to relax the current ban on rice exports despite a bumper paddy harvest this year and record procurement expected by state-run agencies.

“There is no proposal to ease the ban on rice exports,” he said, while also indicating that the minimum export price on basmati would continue.

His remarks come against the backdrop of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram announcing Friday that state-run agencies had made the highest-ever procurement of wheat of 20.7 million tonnes this year.

He also said the situation for rice would be similar by the time the season ended in September.

“Roughly, 98.4 percent of wheat that arrived in Punjab has been procured by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and 99 percent has been procured in Haryana,” Chidambaram told a press conference here.

“For rice, we have procured 24.5 million tonnes and we hope to procure much more by the time the season ends in September,” the finance minister added.

The government had set a target of procuring 15 million tonnes of wheat this year.

“We now have ample supplies of wheat and rice.”

India, along with some Asian nations, had banned export of rice in a bid to ease prices of the commodity after headline inflation in the country scaled 40-month highs.

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