MUMBAI: India’s move to impose a 20% duty on exports of parboiled rice has prompted buyers and sellers to postpone shipments of around 500,000 metric tons to after mid-October to avoid paying the tax, three leading exporters told Reuters on Tuesday.
The delay in shipments from the world’s biggest exporter of rice could deplete inventories in importers such as Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Liberia, and boost local prices in those countries, which are already near multi-year highs.
India, which is scrambling to rein-in inflation ahead of state elections later this year, on Friday expanded curbs on rice exports with a 20% duty on parboiled rice that would be effective until Oct. 15.
“Buyers are postponing the shipments; nobody is willing to pay the duty,” said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, an exporter. Shipments of around 500,000 tons have been put on hold, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association (REA).
Indian exporters were offering 5% broken parboiled variety last week at $450-$455 per metric ton, but since then have raised prices to a record $520 to $540, exporters said, up nearly 40% from a year ago.
“Even before India imposed the duty, buyers were uncomfortable with the rising prices. Buyers from African countries can’t afford to buy at the current price level,” said Rao.
Supplies will improve once harvesting of the summer-sown crop starts from October, which will bring down local paddy prices and eventually export prices of rice, Rao said.