Onion prices in the UAE are expected to drop by up to 20 per cent as India allowed exports of the commodity to the UAE after the three-month ban on exports.

On December 8, 2023, the world’s largest exporter of onions banned shipments till the end of March due to its price rise in the local market after poor rains in the South Asian country amidst global climate change issues.

Earlier this week, New Delhi allowed the export of 64,400 tonnes of onions to the UAE and Bangladesh.

“Exports of 14,400 tonnes of onions, with a quantity ceiling of 3,600 metric tonnes quarterly to the UAE through National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) is notified,” India’s Ministry of Commerce said.

Following the India ban, prices of onions in the UAE rose sharply from on average of Dh1.5-Dh2 per kg to around Dh7-Dh8 per kg. In fact, onions were sold for as low as Dh1 per kg during the weekend promotions by the retailers. This prompted wholesalers and retailers in the country to sourcing onions from other countries such as Turkey, Iran and China.

Abdullah Sultan Al Fan Al Shamsi, assistant undersecretary for the monitoring and follow-up sector at the Ministry of Economy, on Wednesday said the UAE was in talks with the Indian government on the topic.

“We have direct communication with them in case we have any challenge in supplies, especially from India,” Al Shamsi said during the media briefing.

The UAE and India signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) a few years back which also covered many food items among other industries.

Dr Dhananjay Datar, chairman and managing director of Adil Group, said it has been just announced and “exports will start soon. Prices could go down by up to 20 per cent locally once the imports begin.”

Kamal Vachani, group director and partner of Al Maya Group, said consumers can anticipate a multitude of benefits encompassing affordability and quality.

“The influx of Indian onions into the UAE market is expected to alleviate pricing pressures, offering consumers a reprieve from inflated costs. This affordability aspect is pivotal, especially considering onions’ ubiquity in numerous culinary traditions across the UAE. Moreover, this development underscores the enduring bonds of cooperation and trade between nations, paving the way for sustained growth and prosperity,” said Vachani.

Abubakker TP, director for Abu Dhabi and Al Dhafra region at Lulu Group said onions were coming from Turkey and Sudan.

“India is in the process of lifting the ban so definitely prices will drop locally,” he said.


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