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Pepper imports from Sri Lanka up 10% in December, domestic growers worried

Pepper is imported duty-free by the oleoresin industry, which argues that Indian pepper is unsuitable in view of its lower oil content, a claim contested by growers.

January 30, 2021 / 02:58 PM IST

A 10 percent increase in pepper imports from Sri Lanka in December has left the domestic pepper industry worried, especially at a time when there is a shortage of containers and vessels.

“In December 2020 alone, 822 tonnes of pepper were imported against 80 tonnes in December 2019. The imports came at eight percent customs duty from Sri Lanka under the SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) and duty-free under ISFTA (Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement) with licence from the DGFT (Directorate-General of Foreign Trade,” said Kishor Shamji, Indian Pepper and Spice Traders, Growers, Planters Consortium (IPSTGPC) Coordinator.

All imports were made under the DGFT stipulation that the minimum import price (MIP) should be Rs 500 a kg. India levies zero duty on the import of pepper from Sri Lanka, with a cap of 2,500 tonnes. Anything above that is charged eight percent duty as per SAFTA.

Pepper imports below Rs 500 are allowed under advance authorisation scheme for 100 percent export-oriented units and those functioning in special economic zones to meet the needs of the oleoresin industry.