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Saturday, July 28, 2007

US slams India for high wheat import stds

NEW DELHI: Disappointed with the stringent standards set by India that came in the way of supply of American wheat, the US today sought independent tests of the grain arriving into the country.

It described as "unrealistic" New Delhi's phytosanitary requirements for the foodgrain.

"We are very disappointed that the Indian government's committee of secretaries and Ministry of Agriculture officials have decided against bringing India's unrealistic wheat import phytosanitary requirements in line with international standards," a US Embassy statement said here.

Meanwhile, India today decided to import over 500,000 tons of wheat to augments its buffer stocks.

The government plans to import one million tons of wheat this year.

The US Embassy statement said India's very low weed standard is "nearly impossible" for any global exporter to meet, raising questions about the reliability of India's import inspection process.

"The US calls upon the Government of India to conduct independent tests of imported wheat arriving in Indian ports to verify that these standards are truly being met", the statement said.

Stating that the high cost to Indian consumers of these "overly stringent" rules is very clear in purchases made last year, the statement said India paid 10 to 20 per cent more for wheat than their comparable Egyptian counterparts.

"The total cost savings to India from relaxing norms and including US wheat in tenders last year, would have resulted in 65-85 million dollars in savings, it said.

"The prices being offered to India in the most recent import tender are significantly greater than recent purchases by other wheat importing nations", it said.

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