Just before Christmas, Australia’s grain growers got a nasty surprise. India, our #1 pulse market, imposed an immediate 30% tariff on the import of Australian chickpeas and lentils.
In his first international visit since taking on the Agriculture portfolio, Minister David Littleproud, is heading to the subcontinent to discuss the move with his Indian counterparts.
Speaking from the GrainCorp terminal in Geelong this week Minister Littleproud said he'd take the concerns of Australian growers to the Indian Government.
“Australia hugely appreciates its good relationship with India,” Minister Littleproud said.
“India is the world's second largest population and is our fifth-largest export market, worth $3.1 billion in agriculture exports in 2016-17. India takes $1.1 billion worth of our chickpeas and another $195 million worth of our lentils.
“Whilst we recognise India is within its rights under the World Trade Organisation to raise its tariffs, it makes life extremely tough for farmers when the returns change after a crop is planted.
“Growers need certainty to make decisions which affect their lives.”
National grain farmers representative body, GrainGrowers has welcomed the news.
GrainGrowers Chairman, John Eastburn said last year $1.1 billion worth of Australian chickpeas and nearly $200 million of Australian lentils went to India.
“We are hopeful Minister Littleproud can secure a transitional period for the implementation of the tariff, aimed to protect product in transit, while also highlighting to the Government of India the possible negative impact on future Australian pulse production and R&D.”
Pulse Australia estimates 83,000 tonnes of chickpeas worth $58 million is currently at sea destined for India.