Canadian pulse industry still waiting for answers from India

Commodity News Service

And Western Producer Staff

WINNIPEG, Oct. 20  — Almost three weeks since a India pulse fumigation fee waiver expired, the Canadian pulse industry is still in the dark as to what is happening.

The exemption applied to fees charged on pulses that would require fumigation upon arrival in India.

With the exemption expired on Sept. 30, Canada can still send unfumigated pulses to India until Dec. 31, but will have to pay inspection fees that five times higher than normal, amounting to about $15 a tonne.

“We’re just looking to have some clarity as to how Canada-India pulse trade’s going to play out in the long term and with a long term policy solution,” said Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada on Oct. 20.

There are hopes that the coming week will bring answers after Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights is over in India. As well there has been talk within the industry that some larger pulse exporters in the country are still exporting to India and paying the levy.

Canada has been exempt since 2004 from Indian government regulations which require pulses shipped to the country to be fumigated before arriving. The fumigation process doesn’t work well in cold weather and Canada doesn’t have the nematode pest India is trying to keep out through fumigation.

India has renewed the extensions regularly since 2004. Initially the renewals happened annually, then that was changed to every six months. In July Canada got an expemption to the end of December, but the exemption from the higher fees was only until Sept. 30.

“That was the first time we had gone to a three-month policy … and then we had anticipated that within five or seven days of the end of September, following what they had done in July, India would tell what was the new policy,” Bacon said.

For Bacon it has become more frustrating by the day as other nations, such as the United States and France, who export pulses to India had their inspection fee exemption extended to the end of December.

“India can do many things at a domestic level but there’s no basis for treating Canada differently (for trade),” he said.

Bacon said Pulse Canada wants to get the issue straightened out so trade can continue between the two nations. In the past Bacon said Canada has provided up to 50 percent of India’s pulses.

Currently India is coming off of a large harvest where it produced 23 million tonnes of pulses, 20 percent higher than the previous record. As well the Indian government imported 6.6 million tonnes of pulses and stockpiled two million tonnes last year. The government has announced it will sell 700,000 tonnes of that stockpile, which reduces the need for further imports.

“We’ve had good production globally but we’re really aren’t looking for policies that are season to season and crop to crop. You want to create this trade policy that allows long-term contracts to take place,” Bacon said.

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