Agri Business

India’s curbs on import of pulses: Australia, EU, US raise concerns at WTO

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on June 12, 2020 Published on June 12, 2020

Countries argue at WTO that QRs for three years do not qualify as `temporary’ measure

India’s decision to extend import restrictions on peas, lentils, beans and other pulses by another year till March 31, 2021 has been objected to by many trading partners such as Australia, the EU and the US on the ground that it is no more a temporary measure and should be removed.

The US, at a World Trade Organisation’s Council for Trade in Goods meeting this week, said it was disappointed that India had extended quantitative restrictions (QRs) on pulses through March 31, 2021. “The EU said that, with extensions totalling three years, this was not a temporary measure and should be removed,” a Geneva-based trade official told BusinessLine.

Ukraine, which was yet another member that objected to the import restrictions, noted, in particular, that the quota for yellow peas for the 2021 fiscal year was zero and was a matter of grave concern.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade, through two notifications, one on March 28, 2020, and the other on April 16, 2020 fixed the import quota for 2020-21 for various categories of peas and pulses.

For green peas and other categories, the quota fixed was 75,000 tonne each while for yellow peas, no import would be permitted. For moong beans and pigeon peas, the import quota for the year has been fixed at 1.5 lakh tonne each.

Other WTO members objecting to India’s QRs include Canada and Russia. The countries have been arguing for the past years that QRs by India on import of pulses distort global prices and put the future of farmers in many countries in danger.

India has been traditionally the largest importer of pulses as it is one of the most common sources of protein for its people. However, with the government now trying to motivate Indian farmers to grow more pulses so that the country moves towards self-sufficiency, it is eager to calibrate its policy for imports.

In the meeting of the Council for Trade in Goods, the members opposing the restrictions asked India to explain how the measure conformed to WTO rules which opposed import curbs, the official said.

“India’s response was that the measure was intended to secure the livelihood of farmers amid domestic surplus and the government will continue to review the market situation,” the official said.

India produced 23.40 million tonnes of pulses during the 2018-19 crop year (July-June), which was a little lower than annual domestic demand estimated at 26-27 million tonnes. The gap was met through imports. For 2019-20 (July-June), the government is targeting pulses output of about 26.30 million tonne.

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on June 12, 2020
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor