Delhi confirms Saudi ban on import of Indian pepper


New Delhi has confirmed that Saudi authorities have imposed a ban on the import of pepper from India.

“Saudi authorities have decided to impose temporary ban on the import of all types of pepper from India with effect from May 30,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to parliamentarians.

According to reports, presence of high levels of pesticides in the Indian consignment was the reason for the import restriction.

According to the Indian Spices Board, chilli peppers are one of India’s largest foreign currency earners, and between April and November 2013 a quantity of 181,500 tons of chilli peppers worth $3 million were exported.

Sitharaman also said that due to incidence of pest infestation in some consignments of potatoes imported from India, the Russian authorities have warned on the imposition of restrictions.

“The Russian authorities have warned on the imposition of emergency phytosanitary (related with plants) measures — introduction of temporary restriction on imports of all spectrums of products of high phytosanitary risk from India to Russia,” she said.

India has exported 9,826 million tons of potatoes in 2013-14 to Russia. It was 916 million tons in 2012-13.

The minister said that Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has issued separate advisories to exporters of vegetables to Saudi Arabia and to exporters of potatoes to Russia asking them to follow quality norms specified by importing nations.

Replying to a separate question, the minister said that the scope for further increase in tax rates on apple without further negotiation under the WTO regime seems unlikely at present.

The present import duty is 50 percent which is also the bound rate of duty agreed in WTO.

The top four countries which export apples to India include Chile, China, New Zealand and the US.

She said that the ministerial mandate of the WTO’s Doha Round recognized that developing countries should have the right to select an appropriate number of agricultural tariff lines (products) as special products in the interest of their food security, livelihood security and rural development needs.

Such products would either undergo no reductions in import duties or would have to undergo lower reductions.

“These provisions will, however, come into effect after an agreement is reached and the Doha Round is concluded. However, inclusion of apple as a special product will be considered as and when this department takes up the exercise of identifying special products on conclusion of the Doha Round,” she added.


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