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Pakistan Lifts Three-Year Ban On Wheat Exports

Pakistan decided on Dec. 7 to allow the private sector to export wheat, lifting a three-year ban after a bumper crop led to a market surplus.

Pakistan, Asia’s third-largest wheat producer, in August deferred earlier plans to export two million tonnes of surplus wheat after summer floods washed away at least 725,000 tonnes of the grain and raised concern about the next crop.

Traders said in early November, however, that despite damages from summer floods, Pakistan still has a surplus for export after a bumper crop of 23.86 million tonnes in 2009-10 added to a carry-over of 4.2 million tonnes from the previous crop.

“The Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet… decided to lift the ban on export of wheat,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement, confirming earlier comments on the decision made by Finance Ministry officials to Reuters.

The statement did not mention any limit on the quantity of exports, but two Finance Ministry officials who attended the meeting said earlier that one million tonnes of wheat had been allowed to be shipped by the private sector.

Pakistan consumes about 22 million tonnes of wheat annually. The sowing for the next crop is underway, and harvesting will begin in April.

The government banned wheat exports in 2007 because of shortages and high prices in the domestic market.

The central government last month set an ambitious target for the 2010-11 crop of 25 million tonnes of wheat, despite vast damage to farmland in Punjab and in southern Sindh province.

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