Islamabad : Pakistan has suspended its wheat exports, including to India, with immediate effect following protests from flour mill owners and the provincial governments over a sudden surge in prices blamed on hoarders and speculators.
Pakistan's wheat export has a target of eight million tonnes following the glut in production this year. The government had also withdrawn the 15 percent export duty to encourage exporters.
Food and Agriculture Secretary Ismail Qureshi said that about 400,000 tonnes of wheat had been exported so far, although the destinations or countries contracted were not mentioned.
When asked if the suspension of exports would also apply on the wheat exports already in the pipeline, Qureshi said genuine buyers would not suffer. He said it should not be seen as "a ban on wheat exports".
The decision to suspend wheat exports was taken after a detailed review of the wheat situation in the country at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
The Sindh cabinet had sought an immediate ban on exports to keep flour prices under control.
The prime minister said the country had a record wheat crop this year and the increase in prices was "totally unacceptable".
"Hoarding of wheat and manipulation will not be tolerated," he was quoted in Dawn as saying Thursday.