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Zero duty imports from Nepal become major concern for Darjeeling’s tea and edible oil industry

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Zero duty imports from Nepal below the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) settlement have emerged as a major concern for Darjeeling’s tea and edible oil industry. Darjeeling’s tea industry, which is a major sufferer on account of the entry of cheaper Nepalese teas, has determined to take up the difficulty with the West Bengal authorities as soon as the lockdown within the state is withdrawn. It needs the state authorities to curb gross sales of Nepalese teas, which don’t conform to the standard parameters.

On the opposite hand, the edible oil industry has requested the central authorities to channelise imports of soybean oil from Nepal by public sector businesses and distribute the oil to the susceptible sections of society.

“Zero duty imports of Nepal tea cannot be stopped under SAFTA. What is required is more stringent checking by the administration so that cheap quality Nepal teas do not reach the consumers in the name of Darjeeling tea,” Kaushik Basu, secretary, Darjeeling Tea Association, advised ET. “We will take up the matter with the West Bengal government once the lockdown is withdrawn and retail shops start reopening. We have also requested the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to step up quality checks on imported Nepal teas.”

Last yr, the Tea Board of India had issued directives to all of the registered tea patrons and licensed distributors that they’d require a clearance from the FSSAI earlier than the tea sale is allowed in Indian markets. The determination was made after teas from neighbouring nations like Nepal have been offered as ‘Darjeeling tea’ for home consumption. Darjeeling tea estates yearly produce 8 million kg of teas.

While low cost teas from Nepal are bothering the Darjeeling tea industry, imports of refined soybean oil from Nepal have emerged as a major concern for the oil refining industry in northern and japanese India.

The Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) has alleged that Nepal has no manufacturing of soybean and a really small capability for crushing imported soybean. It stated the soybean oil coming from Nepal is of South American origin and is coming into India by flouting the foundations of origin for getting the duty exemption.

According to the SEA, Nepal imported 350,000 metric tonnes of crude soya oil from July 2020 to April 2021 and exported 215,000 metric tonnes of refined soya oil.

“Though Nepal’s ministry of industry and supplies as well as Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry have clarified through media that certificate of origin issued for export of refined soybean oil to India is meeting the value addition of 20% norms under India-Nepal treaty, we have still asked the government to channelise imports of edible oils from Nepal through government agencies like NAFED and distribute the oil to the vulnerable section of society through public distribution system which will also protect the refining industry in eastern and northern India,” stated BV Mehta, government director, SEA.

Source : Public News

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