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US declines to comply with wheat quality demands as India revives import plannews
07 June 2007

Mumbai: Days after the government scrapped a tender to import one million tonnes of wheat, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today said India will buy five million tons of the grain from overseas this year to augment buffer stock for meeting any exigencies.

"We have to import five million tonnes of wheat to raise the buffer stock position," he told reporters.

The decision comes even as the United States said it cannot accept stringent wheat import norms set by India but warned that New Delhi may end up paying a higher import price for the foodgrain in the international market by excluding it from the suppliers list.

India, which has decided to import five million tonnes of wheat, however, said it wanted Washington to participate in the import process.

"It is true that talks have been held with the US government. We want US should also participate in our wheat import process", Pawar said.

"US wheat is among the highest quality in the world and is safely shipped to over 110 nations, including every importer of significance except India", a statement from the US embassy said.

"...Substantial hurdles still remain, as the United States cannot agree to import standards that are impossible to certify and are not in line with international norms", the statement added.

Washington said that by excluding it from the market, "India decreases competition, which significantly raises the cost of imported wheat and translates into higher flour prices for Indian consumers."

This would be the second year in a row that India, the world''s second-biggest wheat producer, would import the grain. The government had imported 5.5 million tonnes last year to augment its depleted buffer stock owing to low procurement.

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US declines to comply with wheat quality demands as India revives import plan