U.S. and Japan Objects to India’s Ban on Onion Exports

27 July 2021
India Onion Exports

The onion is the most widely cultivated specie of the genus Allium. Leek, chive, shallot and garlic are all closely related to this specie. Onion is a vegetable used in most parts of the world. Common onions are available in three varieties: white, red and yellow/brown. Onions are 89% water but are also composed of fiber, protein, sugar and low amounts of essential nutrients.

About 170 countries globally cultivate onions for domestic use while some also grow onions for trade. Who are the world’s top producer countries of onions? Well, China is the leading producer of onions in the world, followed by India and the United States. In terms of trade, Netherlands is the top-most exporter country of onions in the world with a market share of 21.3% recorded in 2020. According to Export Genius, India was the 4th largest exporter country of onions with 8.9% share in value recorded in 2020.

The United States and Japan have objected to India’s frequent ban on onion exports at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both the countries claimed that such prohibitions without prior notification put importing countries in great difficulty. The countries have asked India to clarify its actions and give reasons why it has not opted for an export quota, which allows a certain amount of exports. Last year, India banned exports of onions. The sudden export ban drew protests from onion farmers as well as neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal.

India usually restricts onion exports at the beginning of winter season, when unusual rain sometimes destroying the onion crop leading to the very high prices. In FY20, India even imported onions worth USD 80 million from Afghanistan, Turkey and Egypt to cool prices.

India lifted a ban on onion exports from 1st January 2021 and it managed to export 40,000-50,000 tonne in January month because of a lukewarm response from the international market.

India Onion Exports Apr 2020 to Mar 2021

In FY21, India exported USD 378 million worth of onions, 15% higher than the previous year. India export data of onions shows India shipped onions the most in Apr-Jun 2020, given period is Q1 of 2020 to Q1 of 2021.


Value USD %

Apr-Jun 2020


Jul-Sep 2020


Oct-Dec 2020


Jan-Mar 2021


India’s Top 10 Onion Export Partners 2020

Bangladesh is the world’s top dependent country of Indian onions. Malaysia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia stood at second, third, fourth and fifth place. India shipped about 494,051 tonne of onions to Bangladesh in 2020, followed by Malaysia (185,981 tonne), Sri Lanka (161,852 tonne), United Arab Emirates (147,748 tonne) and Saudi Arabia (79,453 tonne). Below given chart shows value in percentile of India’s top 10 export destinations of onion.


Value USD %





Sri Lanka


United Arab Emirates


Saudi Arabia












Our India export data of onions covers market intelligence information on onion industry. You can analyze India’s onion market by:


·       Destination Country

·       Exporter

·       HS Code

·       Mode of Transport

·       Month

·       Port of Loading

·       Others like value, quantity, trading country, overseas buyer and so on.


India consumes about 180 lakh tonne of onions annually. The total production of onions in India was some 260 lakh tonne in the last season. So, there is always scope for Indian suppliers of onions to export into the global market. However, due to unexpected situation like crop damage due to unseasonal rains, India bans exports of onions into international market. In fact, India forced to import onions from other countries for meeting domestic demand and controlling rising prices.

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