Inventor Sudhakar Yadav has made a coronavirus-themed car to raise awareness of the outbreak © AFP/Getty Images
Inventor Sudhakar Yadav has made a coronavirus-themed car to raise awareness of the outbreak © AFP/Getty Images

India lifts drug export ban after Trump threat

8 April 2020

India has lifted a ban on drug exports – including hydroxychloroquine  – after US president Donald Trump threatened possible retaliation.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the Indian government had decided after a “comprehensive” assessment to lift export restrictions on a number of pharmaceutical products including paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine.

“With regard to paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine, they will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored,” he said.

“However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted.”

Two days ago Trump warned India it could face retaliation if it continued to restrict exports of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that was developed decades ago but has become a sought-after drug to treat Covid-19 after some scientists said it could be effective. 

“If he (Indian PM Narendra Modi) doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course there may be retaliation. Why wouldn’t there be?” Trump said at a White House press briefing.

Countries, including the US, are experimenting with the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients. 

Trump has called the drug “a very special thing” and a “game changer” despite warnings from scientists that it may be less effective than claimed or carry additional risks.

Meanwhile, Indian rice exports have been halted as traders stop signing new export contracts due to the country’s nationwide lockdown, India Today reported.

The crunch has left around 400,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice and 100,000 tonnes of basmati rice stuck in ports or in the supply chain.

Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar have also curbed rice exports while Thai rice prices have risen to their highest in seven years.

And vessels carrying liquefied natural gas are building up along the west coast of India as suppliers reject force majeure claims from Indian buyers and the country’s ports are unable to take shipments due to lockdown, according to S&P Global.

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