Tea Board plans to regulate trade in poor quality tea

July 7th, 2008 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, July 7 (IANS) The Tea Board of India has proposed to chalk out regulations based on price benchmarks to curb export and import of poor quality tea within three months, said board chairman Basudeb Banerjee here Monday. Speaking on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of Calcutta Tea Traders’ Association, he said the regulatory framework under the Tea (Distribution and Export) Control Order 2005, and under the provisions of the Tea Act, 1953, is already in place. This framework would be changed to replace quality-based norms with price-based benchmarks, he added.

“A control order based on quality certification by the Tea Board has been there. We will now try to stop export as well as import of poor quality tea, judging them on the basis of minimum price thresholds, which will act as a surrogate for quality,” Banerjee said.

“We will fix a minimum price, below which tea can’t be exported to a specific country. Such threshold prices would be fixed for imports also,” he added.

The price benchmarks are now being fixed in consultation with the industry and the commerce ministry, and a draft proposal is being prepared for getting the ministry’s approval.

Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh, who was also present at the meeting, welcomed the proposal. He cited a recent example of reputed exporters, including public sector company, failing to fulfil tea export commitments to Iraq. The companies failed to deliver the quality and the quantity promised to Iraq.

“This is a very serious allegation from the Iraqi government, which has recently given us names of those exporters who have sullied the reputation of Indian tea industry,” Ramesh added.

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