Indian tea exporters are cautiously optimistic about the opportunities that are likely to emerge in the Iranian tea market following the signing of the accord between the super-powers and Iran.

Tea exports to the sanctions-hit country have been rising in recent times after a sharp drop in 2010, post-sanctions. It started picking up after the Indian government created an alternative rupee-based settlement mechanism through which five Iranian banks were designated to open letters of credit and interact with city-based-UCO bank.

High-value market

India had worked its way into this high-value market, increasing exports from 1.5 million kg in 2003 to 14.5 million kg in 2008. It collapsed to around 3 million kg in 2010 in the wake of U.S. sanctions and consequential payment problems.

Referring to the gains that Indian tea exports made in the market through the financial pathway enabled by UCO Bank, Monojit Dasgupta, Secretary General of the Indian Tea Association, said : “Latest statistics show that between January and July, 2013, India exported 10.8 million kg of tea to Iran valued at Rs. 252.3 crore. This compares with the exports of 3.5 million kg of tea valued at Rs. 64.7 crore exported a year ago.

Among the major Indian tea exporters are: McLeod Russel Ltd., Goodricke, M K Shah Exports, Rossel Tea, Warren Tea and Andrew Yule.

Indian exporters are somewhat circumspect that competition may now also move in as the deal may ease international trading with Iran.

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