China has started importing rice from India for the first time in at least three decades due to tightening supplies and an offer of sharply discounted prices, Reuters reported on Wednesday, quoting industry officials.
“For the first time China has made rice purchases,” BV Krishna Rao, President of Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters. “They may increase buying next year after seeing the quality of Indian crop.”
Indian traders have contracted to export 1 lakh tonnes of broken rice for December-February shipments at around $300 (Rs 22,800) per tonne, according to Reuters.
India is the world’s biggest exporter of rice and China is the biggest importer. Beijing imports around 4 million tonnes of rice annually but has avoided purchases from India, citing quality concerns.
China’s traditional suppliers, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Pakistan, have limited surplus supplies for export and were quoting at least $30 (Rs 2,280) per tonne more compared to Indian prices, rice trading officials said.
The development comes amid ongoing tensions between the two countries in the eastern Ladakh region. The standoff along the Line of Actual Control between India and China has been in a stalemate since May. The initial scuffles led to a pitched battle – without firearms – in June that saw 20 Indian soldiers killed. Beijing, however, refused to release casualty numbers on its side. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into rival territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years.
India’s overall rice exports have witnessed a jump this year, as compared to last year, increasing by 43% in the January-October period, the Economic Times reported on Tuesday, quoting government data.