Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud will visit India to negotiate a better deal for his country’s farmers after New Delhi imposed higher tariff on imported chickpeas and lentils last month.
India had imposed 30 percent import duty on chickpeas (chana) and lentils (masoor) to protect domestic farmers from falling local rates in view of higher output.
Littleproud has said that an estimated 2 lakh tonnes of Australian chickpeas and lentils were in transit when the India announced the tariff hike.
The Australian government wants to take a strategic approach to resolve the long-term trade issue with India besides looking at alternative markets to dispose of its pulses.
The efforts of his visit will focus to ensure the tariff issue gets resolved and at the same time make sure that “we reinforce the need for a long-term sustainable free-trade agreement with India,” Littleproud said in an interview to Australia Broadcast Corporation.
Noting that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India was a high priority for Australia’s farm sector, the minister said the government was acting in a “sensible and responsible way” to ensure the issue does not become an “impediment” in the long term of progress of an FTA with India.
“What we have to understand is we have a $ 2.7 billion trade surplus in the agriculture sector with India, so we have to be sensible about how we negotiate with India.”
The Australian government is also looking at other markets such as Nepal, Iran and the UAE for its pulses sale. It is trying to make representation in those nations where the cargo is in transit now, he said.