The Sri Lankan government has taken steps to prevent routing of third country origin pepper to India following the request of the Indian government.
The Commerce Ministry stated that Sri Lanka has temporarily suspended import of spices, including pepper and arecanut to Sri Lanka through the Entry Port Trade and Commercial Hub operations to prevent these spices being reshipped to India as Sri Lankan products.
The ministry has given its response to Kishore Shamji, Coordinator, Indian Pepper and Spice Traders, Growers, Planters Consortium, Kerala chapter, when he raised a request not to allow pepper imports till the domestic price of pepper reached ?500 per kg.
RP Kanchan, Assistant Director (S), Plant-D, said strict documentation requirements had been prescribed for the issuance of SAFTA/ISFTA certificates for Rules of Origin, documents such as Bill of Lading and verified Customs declarations both of which indicate that if the consignments were originally loaded in Sri Lanka, have been made compulsory.
New registration procedure has been prescribed for companies exporting black pepper and pre-shipping inspections are being conducted on pepper stocks.
It is pointed out that the steps taken by the Indian government has helped arrest a steep fall in pepper prices and reduce imports. The estimated import of pepper into India in 2018-19 was 24,950 tonnes, compared with 29,650 tonnes in 2017-18, registering a decline of 16 per cent.
The Chairman, CBIC, Department of Revenue has also been requested to issue advisories to the relevant authorities in the international borders of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar to tighten the vigil on the borders to prevent the illegal entry of black pepper into the country. Meanwhile, the pepper growing community has heaved a sigh of relief over the changes mooted to check “rules of origin” criteria to determine the source country of a product. They pointed out that the proposed amendment in the customs laws by introducing stringent provision to check abuse of FTA provision would benefit both pepper and areca nut farmers, who have suffered a lot following the bilateral agreements that paved the way for dumping of products and pushing down the prices.