The Telegraph
Monday , February 25 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tea Board eyes boost in exports

Guwahati, Feb. 24: Tea Board of India will provide all help and support to the only dry port in the region — the inland container depot at Amingaon — to help it increase its export volumes.

Sources said the board, in its outcome budget for 2012-13, said the plan was to make the depot viable for exporters and to ensure safe, clear and disruption-free shipments of tea from the region.

“Activities like transport subsidy and export promotion support to the exporters are very important for their continuance. In particular, the support under transport subsidy to the depot provides an incentive to the exporters for the loss incurred because of empty haulage of containers from Amingaon to Haldia,” it said.

In 2011-12, 2,600 containers with 30 million kg of tea valued at Rs 450 crore were sent through the depot. In 2012-13, 2,575 containers have been shipped till date and a few more are still to go. The figure was 2,285 in 2010-11.

The tea industry, too, has been urging Dispur to extend incentives for three more years to cover exports through the depot to help exporters target thrust markets.

The state government had waived agricultural income tax of Rs 6 for every kilogram of made tea exported through the depot for one year.

The Indian Tea Association, in its pre-budget memorandum to the state government this year, stated that Dispur must be aware how volatility in price realisation and high cost of production and transportation had made Assam tea costlier in the international markets. “While the inland container depot has created considerable employment opportunities and enabled Assam tea to reach international buyers much faster, the producer-exporters will face difficulty in using the depot in the absence of proper incentives,” it stated.

“Many key markets like Iran, Pakistan and Egypt, totalling a market size of over 250 million kg, have recently started import of Assam tea. Iraq, traditionally a very price sensitive market, is gradually shifting to private buying and Assam tea may also have new opportunities in this market. The relief by way of a deduction of Rs 6 per kg would enable exporters to factor in the benefit and quote more competitively towards targeting these thrust markets,” the association said.

Sources in the industry said the revenue impact of such a step would be marginal though exports out of Assam would get a significant boost. There would be no direct loss of revenue for the state government as the relief will be dependent on the agricultural income earned by the exporters.

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