Coming on the heels of the ban on onion exports from India, the report that the Indian government is likely to grant special permission to export 25,000 tonnes of onion to Bangladesh, comes as some respite. Bangladesh was caught completely off-guard by this abrupt ban. The embargo was bound to have an adverse effect on prices, since there is no dearth of unscrupulous traders who jump at every opportunity to reap a whirlwind profit. And that indeed was the case, with the price of onions going up manifold in the matter of 24 hours.
While we hope that the special permission would be effective without further loss of time, we also feel that the Indian government should allow movement of the more than 800 trucks stranded on various border points for the last few days. If we understand correctly, the relevant Indian rules put this shipment out of the purview of the ban. Time is of essence here, since with every passing day, the conditions of the onions loaded on trucks will worsen, and most of the nearly 16,000 tons of onions, purchased and paid for by Bangladeshi importers, might be beyond human consumption.
We accept that a country may have its own reasons for taking decisions related to external trade, but if that comes without adequate notice, it upsets the plans of the country importing a particular commodity from it, especially if that happens to be an essential and fast-moving item. We believe that the Bangladesh diplomatic missive to India adequately reflects Bangladesh's position.
While we welcome the Indian decision to grant special permission to export onion to Bangladesh, we would hope that Bangladesh would have the benefit of an advance notice of any Indian decision concerning changes in its export policy, particularly if that is related to very essential items.