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US eyes 1m tonne wheat sales to India
SINGAPORE: The United States expects to sell up to 1 million tonnes of wheat to India this year, believing proposals to meet stringent tender specifications are being well received by New Delhi, according to a leading US industry official.

Despite India shopping world markets from more than 5.5 million tonnes of wheat last year, the United States did not sell any of the grain to India because of frustrations over the bidding process.

New Delhi imposed a number of conditions on how cargoes would be fumigated, inspected, and sampled.

“We are confident of moving wheat to India this year,” Mark Samson, vice president for South Asia of the US Wheat Associates, told Reuters in an interview. “Talks are moving in the positive direction.”

“We, along with the US Department of Agriculture, have submitted some proposals to the Indian government. Some of them have received praise,” he added.

A big sale to India could boost wheat prices in Chicago, while ringing alarm bells in Australia, which supplied the bulk of the wheat to India last year.

An Indian government delegation earlier this week held talks with US officials on wheat specification issues.

India’s State Trading Corp has issued tenders to import 1 million tonnes of wheat and bidding closes on May 21.

India is expected to need at least 3 million tonnes of wheat this year but some traders expect that India’s imports could be as high as 5 million tonnes.

“We are expecting to hear something from the Indian government on our proposals by the end of next week,” Samson said.

Indian officials said they would consider buying US grain, if certain conditions were met.

“We will not hesitate to import from the US provided it meets our requirements in terms of quality and is price competitive,” a senior food ministry official in New Delhi said.

Atul Chaturvedi, president of Adani Exports Ltd, a commodities trading firm, said: “There are efforts to get US wheat into India. There are chances that we will get to see US wheat in India in the near future.”

But rising freight rates could stand in the way of Indian imports of US wheat.

“The possibility of US wheat coming to India will depend a lot on costs as freight charges may make US wheat expensive for India,” said an analyst, who asked not to be identified, with Man Financial. On Thursday, Chicago the benchmark July wheat contract fell 11-¼ cents, or 2.3 percent, to close at $4.85-½ per bushel.

India has one wheat crop a year, mostly in its northern states. Output has been stagnating around 70 million tonnes annually while consumption has been steadily growing. This year the harvest is forecast to rise about 5.6 percent to 73.3 million tonnes, from 69.4 million in 2006, according to the farm ministry. reuters
MGR Archive 20.5.2007
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