Onion export ban gives Sheikh Hasina teary eyes

Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina. (AFP Photo)

Cracking a joke on India's decision to stop onion export, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday said, she asked her cook not to use the vegetable in the food following India's sudden ban.

“I don’t know why you stopped onion (exports). I told my cook to not to use onion in food. Prior notice of such decisions would help. Suddenly, you stopped and it became a difficulty for us. In future, if you are taking such a decision, prior information would help,” she said in a lighter vein while addressing the India-Bangladesh Business Forum here.

With onion prices soaring, the central government last Sunday (Sept 29) not only banned the export of the kitchen-staple but also imposed a limit on the stock that traders can held.

The decision was taken after onion prices crossed Rs 80 per kg mark in the retail markets in several states.

India being the world's largest seller of onions, the move also hit several other countries in Asia like Bangladesh and Malaysia. Procuring it from alternate sources like Egypt and China takes several weeks while supply from India takes only a few days to reach Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Prime Minister is on an official visit to India during which she would hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. Issues like water sharing, transport between the two countries and bilateral trade are likely to be on the agenda.

Addressing the business forum meeting a day before the bilateral summit, Hasina said Bangladesh had the most liberal investment policy in south Asia including protection of foreign investment by law, generous tax holiday, concessionary duty on import of machinery and unrestricted exit policy.

Commerce and industry Minister Piyush Goyal who also holds the Railway portfolio said India was looking to increase the frequency of the trains running between the two countries.

Bandhan Express, which runs between Kolkata and Khulna once a week, would be increased to twice a week and later four days a week. Similarly, frequency of Maitree express, which runs between Kolkata and Dhaka, would be increased to five day a week from the current four day a week, he said.

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