Five years after leading a tea delegation to Kenya, Dipak Shah, Chairman, South India Tea Exporters’ Association (SITEA) has done it again, but this time to Indonesia and Malaysia.

Returning home after a four-day tour of these two countries, Shah admitted to BusinessLine that it was indeed a big challenge for the nine-member visiting team, considering that both Indonesia and Malaysia are tea producing countries.

“The trip went off very well and now we are back after inking a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tea Trade Association of Malaysia (TTAM) to strengthen co-operation and establish an efficient co-operative mechanism through friendly negotiation,” he said.

Further stating that there were no statistics on the quantum of tea exports to Indonesia, Shah said Malaysia imported 12,000 to 14,000 tonnes of tea annually from India and volumes were growing steadily. “We are looking to double it in two years. They are looking for South Indian dust, but not “a very strong cuppa”, he said.

“And for the first time, SITEA and TTAM agreed to resolve disputes (that may arise post this MoU) through friendly negotiation,” Shah claimed.

While in Indonesia, the team met Rachmat Badruddin, Chairman, Indonesian Tea Board, and their members, including senior officials of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture.

Members of TTAM along with its President Liew Choon Kong received the visiting Indian tea delegation in Kuala Lumpur.

Recalling his visit to Kenya, Shah said “the challenges were similar, but the trade there, which had earlier indicated their willingness to participate in the discussions, abstained from the meeting. Subsequently, though, we managed to conclude the negotiations. Today, substantial volumes of tea are exported to Kenya.”

“But in Indonesia and Malaysia, not only did the members of the trade turn up in large numbers, the discussions were also fruitful,” the SITEA Chairman said.