"Our expectation before the economic crisis hit, was to achieve a net export of 210 million kilogram. On an average our net export has been 185 million kg on an average. For the first time net export would increase by about 25 million kg," said Jairam Ramesh, Union minister of state for commerce and power.
India exported 185 million kg of tea in 2007-08 earning almost Rs 1,888 crore.
"We have done very well in Egypt. Egypt had been a traditional market for us but we have not exported more than 3-4 million kg there. We could cross 15 million kg in the calendar year 2008," Ramesh said. According to the Tea Board of India estimates, it is likely to touch 20 million kg.
India exported 44 million kg of tea to Iraq two years ago but the market collapsed in 2007-08 with exports going down to 2-3 million kg. "It has recovered this year and India is expecting 20 million kg to Iraq this fiscal," Ramesh said.
India's export to Iran is around 4-5 million kg on an average. Tea Board is hopeful of doubling it up after a high level delegation led by minister of external affairs, Pranab Mukherjee, last month.
"I think even under the most pessimistic scenario, I do not see net export falling below 200 million kg," Ramesh said.
According to Basudeb Bannerjee, chairman of the Tea Board of India, if at all the impact of financial crisis is felt it will happen next year.
Meanwhile India is also eyeing the US market, dominated by the iced tea segment. It also imports green tea from China and high quality, high value tea from India.
"We have started speciality tea segment in US. We have participated in exhibitions and looking at recreating events like the Boston Tea Party with the help of merchant exporters," Bannerjee said.