Dubai, Apr 20: Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Zainal Alireza told Saudi traders the government would put pressure on New Delhi to ease rice exports to the Kingdom. The move came after Indian Parliament asked producers to stop export of all types of rice, including basmati. ''Saudi traders expect government intervention to force Indian rice exporters to honour the deals they had signed with them,'' the Arab News said.
Analysts said the Indian government has two choices either to allow export of all types of rice or impose a total ban, it said. ''New Delhi is likely to opt for the second option as the country of 1.1 billion people has witnessed heavy shortage in rice in recent months, its worse in 25 years,'' it added. Saudi traders have conveyed their fears that India would stop exporting rice to the Kingdom, causing a big crisis in the country. The price of rice in the Kingdom has already increased three times, sending shockwaves among Saudis and expatriates. Many Saudi traders are now meeting local demand taking from their previous stocks.
The Saudis have complained that Indian traders were delaying supply of rice in accordance with deals they had signed before at lower prices.
They have expressed their readiness to pay the price difference if supplies are made on time.
Khaled Al-Mahrous, a trader, said an agreement between Saudi Arabia and India in this respect was essential to protect Saudi rice reserves and keep prices at reasonable levels.
He hoped that rice prices would come down in coming months with beginning of new harvest season in India.
Rice prices have gone up 50 per cent in international markets during the past six months. Many Asian producing countries, except Thailand have put restrictions on rice exports.
In Vietnam, consumer prices rose by nearly 20 per cent in March, the highest in more than 12 years.