Indian officials call for cardamom import tariff

INDIA’S Spices Board, encouraged by the government’s recent decision to fix a tariff for the import of poppyseeds, wants the administration to impose a similar tariff for the import of cardamom to protect local growers.

The board said traders in the country are becoming increasingly concerned at the level of cheaper imports of the spice. It is estimated that nearly 400 tonnes of cardamom has already been imported this year from Guatemala for around Rp100 ($2.53) a kg, compared with domestic prices of around Rp550 a kg.

SKannan, director of the Spices Board, argues that even after paying 70% import duty, Guatemalan cardamom will be cheaper than India’s locally-produced supply and could seriously affect the prospects of growers.

The Guatemalan cardamom is arriving in India from Nepal, where it is being sold on duty free due to the free trade agreement that exists between India and Nepal. The government has initiated steps to prevent smuggling across the border but has not yet responded to calls to set a fixed tariff because it could be ruled to be against the spirit of the agreement by theWTO.

But since the government has made a move to fix the base price of poppyseed imports to Rp213,000 a tonne, after buyers starting importing Turkish poppyseeds for around Rp59,287 a tonne, the Spices Board has become more confident of reaching a compromise with the government.

Mr Kannan said he had recently written to the finance ministry to propose the setting of a tariff for cardamom imports based on the average price of around Rp325 a kg.

India produces around 11,500 tonnes of cardamom on an annual basis and the domestic consumption of the spice is around 80%.

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