KOLKATA: Reeling under the onslaught of fierce competition from Kenya and Sri Lanka, Indian tea planters are waiting for Pakistan to grant most favoured nation (MFN) status to boost exports across the border.
“We are keenly waiting for Pakistan to grant MFN status to boost exports across the Wagah border as our tea will have a price advantage over competitors with zero import tariff and lower overheads,” said state-run Tea Board Executive Director R Ambalavanan told IANS news service.
Though Indian exports to Pakistan more than doubled to 18.9 million kg in 2010 from 7.5 million kg in 2009 and to 10.6 million kg in first six months (Jan- June) of 2011 from 9.5 million kg in same period in 2010, a substantial quantity of the beverage is unofficially shipped or smuggled into the neighbourhood through third countries Dubai & Afghanistan.
“MFN status will immensely benefit growers as well as exporters by avoiding middlemen and availing of 10% tariff exemption Pakistan levies on tea imports. Shipments through Wagah border will also reduce logistics costs,” official said.
Pakistan buys more tea from Kenya and Sri Lanka than from India, which is the second largest producer and consumer after China of aromatic beverage.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2011.