November 29: The non-tariff barrier imposed by India on export of Nepali tea has been resolved for the time being. Tea export from Kakadbhitta has resumed through diplomatic initiatives of Nepal.
According to Ishwar Raj Poudel, Nepal's Consul General in Kolkata, India, a diplomatic initiative was taken through the Ministry of External Affairs to resolve the issue. After the Indian side agreed to Nepal’s proposal, 18 trucks packed with tea that were stopped at Kakadbhitta checkpoint have been allowed to enter India.
According to the Mechi Customs Office, the tea is being exported after the Indian side agreed not to obstruct the import of tea from Nepal. Chief Customs Officer at the Mechi Customs Office, Keshav Raj Oli said that tea export has been smooth since last Tuesday and 3/4 trucks of tea are being exported to India daily.
The Department of Commerce, India had written letters to its subordinate bodies on November 3, questioning the quality of tea coming from Nepal. The trucks carrying tea were stuck at the checkpoint after the department instructed them to import tea only after completing the required processes including quality check.
Tea exported from Nepal are sold by Indian businessmen under the brand name 'Darjeeling Tea' in Indian and foreign markets. The Nepali tea producers claim that the recent increase in tea production in India has created obstruction in the name of quality control.
Stating that the quality of Darjeeling tea has deteriorated, the Indian side had instructed to import the tea from Nepal only after testing the quality. Officials say the problem has been resolved for the moment after the Nepalese embassy in New Delhi took the issue at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian side agreed to allow the import of tea.
Even though the problem has been resolved for the time being, Nepali producers have complained that India has been obstructing the export of Nepali tea from time to time. According to Nepali producers, India has created obstruction under the pretext of quality check and related processes after production has increased in its market.
According to the statistics of the Department of Customs, tea worth Rs 3.79 billion was exported from Nepal in the last fiscal year 2077/78. Of that, 80 percent was exported to India.