Confusion surrounds India’s latest pea import curb

(File photo)

The fine detail in the announcement of a new cap on pea imports into India has led to new uncertainty over whether the cap applies to yellow peas, or all peas.

India’s commerce and industry ministry announced Wednesday that pea imports between April 1 and June 30 this year are now restricted to a total of one lakh tonne (100,000 tonnes).

“The direction that we got from the government of Canada was that it was restricted to yellow peas,” said Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada.

That information came from a source in Ottawa, who may have received verbal confirmation from India, Bacon said — but pulse traders have heard a different interpretation of the notice, he added.

The issue seems to be the ministry’s notice itself, dated Wednesday and published in the Gazette of India. The notice includes a harmonized system (HS) code and a policy condition.

The HS code for green peas is 1010, while yellow peas fall under 1020, Bacon said — but the code in the notice is 1000, which covers all peas.

However, the policy condition in the same notice only mentions yellow peas.

“So that’s the root of the confusion. And I couldn’t interpret it one way or the other,” said Bacon.

The pea import restriction is just the latest obstacle to affect pulse exports to India. The Indian government in November fixed a 50 per cent tariff to pea imports. In the last few months, the Indian government has also applied a tariff to desi chickpeas. The chickpea tariff started out at 30 per cent in December, and by March had grown to 60 per cent. However, that tariff doesn’t apply to kabuli chickpeas, which are the dominant type grown in Canada.

The trade also needs more information about how the pea import policy announced Wednesday will operate, Bacon said.

The policy states that between April 1 and June 30, 100,000 tonnes of yellow peas, “minus the quantity already imported” from April 1, will be allowed against license. That includes shipments that arrived between April 1 and 25, and those backed by letters of credit and advance payments made before Wednesday, the notice said.

The Indian government will likely provide a clarification to the original written notice. The Canadian government is now seeking that clarification from India, Bacon said, but he’s unsure when the clarification will arrive.

The confusion underscores the need to get the details in writing from an Indian government authority, Bacon said.

“Unfortunately these issues are sufficiently complex that you can get into trouble if you try to interpret things.”

— Lisa Guenther is a field editor for Grainews and Country Guide at Livelong, Sask. Follow her at @LtoG on Twitter.

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