New Delhi | India today expressed concerns over imports of pepper from south-east Asian countries saying the inbound shipments could impact small farmers of southern states. Addressing the members and business delegates of CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said farmers of the Southern states of India have raised concerns over imports of certain agriculture produce, which are grown in these states like spices, from these overseas countries.
There are voices of anxiety that if there are other than legitimate trade coming in, may be some where some kind of a rules/country of origin of rules being bypassed. Products coming through different countries…, she said. Citing example of pepper imports, Sitharaman said Kerala has expressed lot of concerns about pepper which comes into this country from Vietnam which they are willing to accept but if there are pepper coming from countries which do not grow pepper at all, they (Kerala producers) are worried as to where this pepper comes from. CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries are also members of Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) group. India has implemented a free trade agreement with the 10-nations ASEAN bloc.
I have provinces within India, particularly the southern provinces, which probably climatically have lot of commonness with these four countries (CLMV), were already expressing concern about agricultural products which are very unique to us also coming in a very big way into India and as producers particularly the small producers find it difficult to compete, Sitharaman said. Farmer’s associations had criticised the Centre for signing the FTA with Asean. The trade pact came into force in 2010. The import duties have been reduced from 70 per cent to 60 per cent. It would be further reduced to 50 per cent by 2019.
Pepper imports in India increased from 16,100 tonnes in 2010-11 to 17,565 tonnes in 2011-12. It was 15,600 tonnes in 2012-13 and 15,680 tonnes in 2013-14. … and these are issues which can rankle and therefore in engaging with particularly CLMV, I would certainly want greater trust and confidence in talking about not just manufactured goods but also about agri products in which some states in India always have the lead advantage, she added.
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