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Sri Lanka’s move to ease exports to India worries pepper industry

Any export above the limit is subjected to 8 per cent duty under South Asia Free Trade Agreement.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 13, 2019, 08.56 AM IST
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Currently, India levies zero duty import on 2,500 tonnes of pepper from Sri Lanka annually under the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.
Kochi: India’s pepper industry took exception to the reported move by the Sri Lankan government to hold talks with the Indian ministry for relaxing the minimum import price (MIP) fixed for black pepper to protect the domestic industry.

Over a year ago India had slapped an MIP of Rs 500 per kg on black pepper to curb increasing imports of the spice into the country that had pushed down prices to around Rs 350 per kg from nearly Rs 500 per kg.

The government had levied MIP after pepper traders and exporters complained that Vietnamese pepper was coming to India via Sri Lanka with certificate of origin issued by the latter.
pepper-graph

“Sri Lanka should have ensured that no certificate of origin was issued for Vietnam pepper routed to the country which caused great damage to Indian pepper farmers,’’ said Kishore Shamji, Kerala coordinator of Indian Pepper and Spice Traders, Growers, Planters Consortium.

Currently, India levies zero duty import on 2,500 tonnes of pepper from Sri Lanka annually under the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement. Any export above the limit is subjected to 8 per cent duty under South Asia Free Trade Agreement, as against the usual customs duty of 70 per cent on pepper import into India.

“Indian pepper growers feel no further concession should be made till domestic prices reach Rs 500 per kg. Any further concessions will lead to the destruction of pepper farmers in India,’’ Shamji said, adding that the spice extraction industry is already importing pepper without duty under advance licence for value addition and re-export. Indian pepper is the highest priced in the world market at present and as a result pepper from other markets is being smuggled into the country. “Brazilian pepper is being smuggled to the country and sold at Rs 370 per kg,’’ said Jojan Malayil, chief executive officer of Bafna Enterprises.

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Indian pepper too hot to handle, loses out to cheap Vietnam stuff

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