Industry looks to third country platform for further boost

India's tea exports to Afghanistan and Pakistan reached an all time high in 2011 and producer-exporters are increasingly looking to utilising third country platforms to cement this position.

The buyer-seller meet (BDM) proposed to be held in Abu Dhabi later this week, marks a step in this direction and the number of countries participating in this year's meet has expanded to include Russia, the world's single largest tea importer and a market where India is trying to recapture its lost share. Russia still remains India's single biggest market.

Sources at the Indian Tea Association (ITA), the apex organisation of North Indian teas, said that although official figures were not yet available, Indian exports to Pakistan and Afghanistan touched a high in 2010, a year when exports declined.

The year 2010 was marked by lower production as well as exports which at 193 million kg was 2.3 per cent lower than that of 198 million kg in 2009. It is looking to recoup some of that lost ground this year. Official statistics for destination-wise exports available only for the January-May 2010 period, show that exports to Afghanistan and Pakistan (known as AfPak) increased to 12.2 million kg from 7.4 million kg in the year-ago period. It is estimated to have touched 20 million kg by December.

The industry feels that opportunities provided by BSM meets at third country locations for exports to countries like Pakistan will help overcome the hurdles posed by the difficult political equations between the two neighbours, in the case of Pakistan, and the turmoil and logistics in the case of Afghanistan. “Many associations and trade bodies from Pakistan attend the meets in West Asia and hold trade talks freely,” a top exporter told this correspondent, adding that frequently Pakistan rerouted exports to Afghanistan.

The Abu Dhabi meet is the third such annual meet, the previous two were held in Dubai. Called the India Tea Festival, it will be held from April 29 to May 1. The event is organised by the ITA and funded by the industry. While earlier Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and UAE were the major participants, the list has expanded this year to include a larger number of producer-exporters and auction-organisers from North and South India. They will be meeting selected importers/buyers/packeters from India's key markets like Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Russia and UAE. The Indian participants include McLeod Russel, Goodricke, Assam Company, Warren Tea, Harrison's Malayalayam and Amalgamated Plantations Ltd.

Keywords: tea export

More In: Economy | Business