India extends fumigation deadline — with caveat

India has extended the June 30 deadline on a requirement that all pulse shipments to that country be fumigated with methyl bromide, but it wasn’t quite the good news the Canadian pulse industry had hoped to hear.

“India has basically extended the ability for exporters around the world to ship to India without fumigation prior to arrival in India, and in exchange for that privilege, they are charging five times their normal fee (for fumigation at an Indian port),” said Gordon Bacon, chief executive officer of Pulse Canada.

“So it’s sort of like we’ve swapped out one requirement for another.”

The permission for exporters to ship without fumigation before arrival at India is extended to Dec. 31.

Bacon said India currently charges $72 per 20-foot container. The additional fee of five times the current rate would equal $360. The number varies from year to year, but Canada typically ships about 20,000 containers of pulses to India annually, so the added fees would cost Canadian pulse shippers about $7.2 million overall.

However, Bacon said it’s not clear if Canadian exporters will be charged the added fee based on India’s recent action at the World Trade Organization to remove Canada from its list of countries required to fumigate with methyl bromide.

He said if Canada is not on the list, how can it be assessed the penalty?

“Does it mean we don’t have to pay the fee? That’s what we don’t have an answer to,” he said.

However, he said Canadian exporters who ship to India after June 30 need to be aware that they may be assessed the additional charge. Pulse Canada, government officials and others in the pulse industry will continue to ask for clarification from India and push for a longer-term solution, he said.

“Everybody agrees we can’t be having to review everything, every six months or three months or every year, and this has been going on since 2003,” said Bacon.

India requires methyl bromide fumigation to help protect its onion and garlic crops from nematode pests.

Canada cannot fumigate with methyl bromide because it is too cold. Without the delay in the fumigation requirement, Canada would have to ship peas and lentils to a third country for fumigation before they could be taken to India.

India buys one-third of Canadian peas and lentils worth about $1.1 billion last year, according to reports.

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