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Tea traders seek SEZ status for Coimbatore

Our Bureau

Coimbatore , Aug. 24

THE Tea Trade Association of Coimbatore (TTAC) has appealed to the Commerce Ministry to look into the feasibility of giving this (read Coimbatore) Tea Hub of South India a SEZ (Special Economic Zone) status.

Addressing the 21st AGM of the TTAC, its Chairman, Mr N. Anand, said the SEZ status would help to boost tea exports. He emphasised that the South Indian teas were in still demand and widely accepted in the CIS countries. ``It is about time that something is done to improve the exports to these countries. Competition has given way for the others to enter these markets that was exclusively ours till 1998. The Centre will have to work out a strategy to revive our exports,'' he said.

TTAC has sought the Government's intervention for reviving tea exports to Libya and for devising measures to check the quality of the teas exported. Mr Anand stressed the need to revalidate the pre-war contracts with Iraq as was done for wheat and other products

Besides Libya, Pakistan was another major market for good liquoring CTC teas. ``There is a need to consolidate our exports to Pakistan,'' he said and suggested the need to visit the potential markets abroad, either with the help of the Government or its agencies for promoting the Indian tea. TTAC has appealed to the Government and the Tea Board to launch a national campaign for promoting tea as a health drink.

Seeks sops extension: The association also appealed to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms J. Jayalalithaa, to extend tax concession on teas sold through the auction centre here on the same lines as would be available in the proposed auction centre at Coonoor.

``If there is a disparity in the sales tax between auction centres in the same state, it is bound to result in unhealthy competition. We are only asking for a level playing field,'' Mr N. Anand said.

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