US-Iran tensions may hit India’s tea exports to Tehran

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Updated: January 5, 2020 9:52:16 PM

Iran's Major General Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US drone attack on Friday, which ratcheted up acrimony between the arch-enemies and sparked fears of a new war in the Middle East.

Iran has emerged as the single largest importer of Indian orthodox tea after the CIS countries.

The tea industry has expressed concern over the possibility of exports to Iran taking a hit in the wake of spiralling tensions between the US and the Persian country. Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US drone attack on Friday, which ratcheted up acrimony between the arch-enemies and sparked fears of a new war in the Middle East. “There will be an impact if there is a conflict between the US and Iran. Orthodox tea exports will suffer,” Tea Board Chairman P K Bezbaruah told PTI.

Iran has emerged as the single largest importer of Indian orthodox tea after the CIS countries. Till November 2019, exports to Iran stood at 50.43 million kg, while shipments to the CIS block was at 52.80 million kg, Tea Board data showed. “Last year, the orthodox tea exporters switched over to the Iranian market in a big way because of higher value realisation,” he said.

Former Indian Tea Association (ITA) chairman and MD & CEO of Goodricke Group Atul Asthana said, “If there is a conflict, there will be no exports of tea to Iran”. Officials, however, said that if exports to Iran do suffer, then the industry can take a relook at the CIS countries, but at a lower price realisation. India Tea Exporters’ Association chairman Anshuman Kanoria said the industry is still hopeful about future exports to Iran. “Iran is an important market for Indian tea. At present, exporters are worried and monitoring the situation. We are still optimistic about future exports to that country, Kanoria told PTI.

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