Equivalence arrangement in dairy product exports EIC in talks with Australian authorities

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Ms Shashi Sareen, Director
Ms Shashi Sareen, Director

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Jan. 6

THE Export Inspection Council of India (EIC) is in talks with Australian authorities to establish `equivalence' arrangement on the dairy products exported from India so that such products could be sold in that country without any re-certification.

Once equivalence arrangement is put in place, trade and industry from India would be able to export dairy products to Australia on the strength of export certification issued by the EIC.

Australia is among the nine countries with which India already has entered into equivalence arrangements for export certification (but not for dairy products). "Besides the nine countries, we are now looking to enter into equivalence agreements with Mauritius, the Philippines (for dairy products), Indonesia, Thailand and Saudi Arabia," said Ms Shashi Sareen, Director, EIC, here on Thursday.

She also said that egg product exports from India to Singapore might soon commence, with two units in southern India now conforming to the requirements set by the Singaporean authorities. Egg product exports already require mandatory certification by the EIC.

Meanwhile, the EIC is also eyeing the domestic market for expanding its certification services base. "We are trying to evolve a scheme in consultation with the Health Ministry for certifying the good hygiene practices that have been implemented in the domestic food industry," Ms Sareen said.

The EIC Chairman, Dr Christy Fernandez, said that the number of complaints against the quality of Indian export products have come down, particularly with reference to the marine products. "There are some complaints. But on the whole, the trend has been one of under control," he said.

The European Commission, which has stringent standards for allowing marine products, had made 50 complaints against Indian marine product exports in 2002. The number of complaints came down to 30 in 2005.

Marine products exports from the country touched a level of Rs 6,646 crore last year.

The main role of the EIC, which is viewed as the official guarantor of quality for Indian exports, is to inspect, test and certify products to meet requirements of the importing countries or in their absence international requirements.

A wide range of products is covered by EIC under its certification from food, footwear, chemicals and stainless steel utensils to electrical and electronic items. Currently, it is mandatory to certify about six items prior to their exports.

These are marine products, meat and meat products, egg products, dairy products, poultry meat and its products and honey.

In the liberalised environment, Dr Fernandez said that the EIC plans to adopt a two-pronged strategy to fight competition (especially from multinational certifying agencies).

"The first component of the strategy is to get more international recognition for the certificates we issue. The second is to build more internal capability," he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 7, 2006)
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