India-EU launch joint project to identify and reduce barriers to farm exports

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2018

Focus on mangoes, grapes, basmati rice, peanut, dairy products

To deal with the frequent rejection of agriculture and processed food consignments from India in Europe and other developed country markets, India and the EU have launched a joint project to identify the barriers faced by Indian exporters in key markets and come up with recommendations to overcome them.

Mangoes, grapes, basmati rice, peanut & peanut products, mushroom, green peas, green beans, dairy products and eggplant will be the focus of the research project as these face the maximum sanitary & phytosanitary (SPS) hurdles in the Western markets, a government official told BusinessLine.

Research under the joint project, being funded by the EU as part of the larger Capacity-building Initiative for Trade and Development (CITD), will be carried out by Delhi-based think-tank ICRIER, under the supervision of the Commerce & Industry Minister in India and EU officials.

Inputs for trade pact

“The results and recommendations of the study can also provide inputs for the proposed India-EU free trade pact as tackling of SPS barriers is high on India’s agenda,” the official said.

The EU had banned imports of mangoes, brinjal, snake gourd, taro and bitter gourd from India in 2014 after fruit flies were found in some consignments. While the ban was subsequently lifted on mangoes, it continues on the vegetables.

“The ban on vegetables continues despite India making it mandatory for exports of all perishable items to the EU to be routed through pack-houses certified by the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority under the vigilance of plant protection inspectors. The project will help India identify what else it can do it improve things,” the official said.

SPS barriers comprise specific concerns that affect the health and safety of consumers and include issues such as presence of excessive chemicals, pesticides, synthetic colour and microbes.

The project, while focussing on exports to the EU, will help India tackle similar situations in other markets also such as the US and Japan.

“Problems faced by Indian exporters of farm products in the EU are more pronounced because of the bloc’s rapid alert system which leads to a particular item facing technical issues in one member country getting blocked in other European countries also even if the glitch is a small one,” the official added.

Farm exports from India were valued at $32 billion in 2015-16 against total exports of $261 billion.

Published on July 14, 2016

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