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India considers allowing further wheat exports

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is considering allowing additional wheat exports to cut huge stocks at government warehouses and make room for the new season's harvest, Food Minister K. V. Thomas said on Thursday.

After lifting a four-year-old ban on wheat exports by private traders in 2011, last year the government approved 4.5 million tonnes of exports from its overflowing warehouses, and more than 2 million tonnes of this total has yet to be shipped.

Approval of yet more exports by India, the world's biggest wheat producer behind China, will help buyers in the Middle East and Africa as leading suppliers Russia and Australia are facing falling output.

"We are considering some more exports. That is the best way to lower your huge surplus stocks when world prices are good," Thomas told Reuters.

Separately, Thomas said the government would prefer to wait until end-February to get a clear idea about the 2012/13 season sugar output before conceding to industry's demand to raise import tax. (Reporting by Jo Winterbottom and Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Anthony Barker)