Bangladesh set to receive onions from India

Wholesale onion market in Kolkata, India, on September 30. On Sunday, India banned exports of onions, a common ingredient in South Asian cooking, as prices remain high due to a seasonal shortage that has been worsened by flooding in several states. Photo: AFP / Indranil Aditya / NurPhoto. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

DHAKA, Sep 19, 2020, The Hindu. Bangladesh will receive a large consignment of onions from this weekend after India decided to make an exception for Dhaka in the 14 September order that banned export of onions, The Hindu reported.

In an internal government communication seen by The Hindu, officials instructed India-Bangladesh border trade points to release the consignment of onions that Dhaka had already paid for before the ban order had come into effect.

“You are accordingly requested to take further necessary action in the matter and pass on necessary directions to your field formations to allow export of such eligible consignments,” stated an email from Nitish Suri, Deputy, Directorate General of Foreign Trade (Exports) (DGFT) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries.

The onion ban has caused a crisis in Bangladesh, with skyrocketing onion prices affecting the entire agriculture sector in the country. The neighbouring country this week sent an official note of protest to India saying such unexpected bans run counter to bilateral understandings reached in the recent past.

In January this year, Bangladesh had asked India to give advance notice in case onions or other agriculture exports are stopped. The request was made after India halted onion exports last autumn, which impacted the festive season.

The latest ban on onions had come as a surprise, as Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla carried out a damage control visit to Dhaka on August 18-19 to stop visible signs of erosion in the ties. The decision of the DGFT is likely to help the onion suppliers of India, as a large quantity that they had already supplied was at risk of perishing at various India-Bangladesh border trade points.

Bangladesh is currently observing the centenary year of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, “Mujib Borsho,” and both sides have repeatedly pledged to take bilateral ties to new heights during this year.

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