Association of Southern India (UPASI) on Monday expressed
concern over the increased import of tea as the association
said it would be detrimental to the tea market in the
Tea is an important agro industry that employs 2.12 lakh
growers and 11.65 lakh workers, of which more than 70 per
cent are women.
Fifty per cent of the production in the country come
from the small grower sector, UPASI president Prashant
Bhansali said in a statement here.
The plantation commodities, including tea, were exposed
to international competition since April 2001, when the
quantitative restrictions were lifted as per the commitments
under the WTO (World Trade Organisaition.
The signing of the ASEAN Agreement in 2009 had further
opened up the Indian tea market to the plantation producing
countries like Indonesia and Vietnam. Under the ASEAN pact,
import duties were gradually reduced since 2009 for tea and
the current import tariff for ASEAN countries, viz. Indonesia
and Vietnam is 45 per cent.
Import of tea from Nepal under SAFTA is nil duty.
The imports during 2020 were estimated at 23.40 million kg
as against 15.85 million kg in the previous year, an increase
of 47.63 per cent, Bhansali said.
During the first quarter of this year [calendar], the
import has shown a significant jump of 139.36 per cent and
imports of increased quantities are reported from Kenya,
Nepal and Vietnam, he said.
The domestic tea sector has been witnessing increasing
cost of production due to high input cost and high wage cost
and any higher intake of tea through import would have a
telling effect on the sector which caters to a large segment
of population residing in remote areas, he said.
The Central government should closely monitor import of
tea and also implement provisions of Tea [Distribution &
Export] Control Order 2005, wherever necessary, he said.
On the other hand, tea exports had taken a hit as evident
from the decline in the quantity exported and the value
The export was lower by 42,430 tonnes in 2020 and
declining trend continued during the first four months of
Though, there was some recovery expected on the export
front, the shortage of containers, especially food grade
containers and increased freight charges, had turned out to
be an obstacle for plantation exports, including tea from
This has resulted in an increase in the transaction time
and cost leading to a considerable delay in completing the
This could damage the green shoots of recovery seen on the
export front, he said.
In the midst of these disadvantages, the non-payment of
Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) from April 1,
2020 and dis-continuation of the scheme itself from December
31, 2020 without any new incentive scheme in place had added
further difficulty to the existing distressed situation, he
Though, the government had announced that RoDTEP (Remission
of Duties Taxes on Export Products) would be implemented with
effect from January 1 this year, the rates for the plantation
commodities are yet to be finalised.
The exporters'' factor in export benefits/rates while
quoting the prices to the overseas buyers.
Any mid-way changes to the export incentive scheme without
even finalising the incentive rates under the new scheme
would put the exporters to great difficulty.
The lower budgetary allocation for the export incentive
scheme in the Union Budget 2021-22 is also a matter of
concern, he said.
The export of plantation commodities needs to be supported
as the country is at a competitive dis-advantage compared to
other export origins due to the infrastructural in-
efficiencies, high wages and social costs, Bhansali said.