The Tea Board of India has urged the Centre to sign a preferential trade agreement with China so that both the countries can tap each other’s market to trade in tea.
The Tea Board of India has urged the Centre to sign a preferential trade agreement with China so that both the countries can tap each other’s market to trade in tea.Tea Board chairman PK Bezbaruah, addressing a 22-member Chinese delegation from Dali in Kolkata, said though India exports 7-8 million kg of black tea to China, Chinese exports of tea to India is very insignificant. China produces an average 2,600 million kg of tea per annum, of which more than 60% is green tea. India produces an average 1,300 million kg of tea per annum, most of which is black tea. Though demand for green tea in India is on the rise, exports of green tea from China is not happening. “In terms of tea trade, India and China should not be competitors. Rather both the countries should complement each other,” Bezbaruah said, adding that tea trade between both the countries should happen at lower duties, for which the Tea Board of India has proposed a preferential trade agreement.
He said economic policies in China are made at the city or prefectural level, and which it would be an advantage for the delegation from Dali, a city in China’s Yunan province, to take forward the issue of preferential trade agreement. Chen Jian, secretary of committee of the Communist Party of China of Dali province, said though issues of foreign trade have to be taken up by the Chinese national government, provincial leaders could certainly persuade it at the highest level. Jian said both the markets should open up since tea could provide an opportunity for considerable business.
Bezbaruah said India and China could collaborate in tea research and bring the maximum residual level (MRL) of tea produced in both the countries at the same standard. MRL harmonisation could remove a probable hurdle of non tariff barrier in trading tea for both e countries. India has only one, 110-year old tea research association, in Assam. It has signed a collaborative agreement with China’s Kunming University to do research on tea.
Prior to the latest delegation, 30 Chinese companies were present at the Bengal Global Business Summit in January. The Chinese consulate in Kolkata also played an important role in the Kolkata International Film Festival and are trying to create people-to-people contact.“There will be more such Chinese delegations to Kolkata in the days to come and we will explore opportunities in the areas of trade, commerce, culture, sports and industry,” Jian said.