Malda mango traders face Bangladesh export duty hurdle

Economic Times, June 19, 2015
Delight over Malda district’s bumper mango crop has been overshadowed by post-harvest worry: Bangladesh, which consumes about 60 per cent of the output, has imposed heavy duty on imports of the fruit, making the Indian variety uncompetitive in the neighbouring country.

The issue could not find place in official discussions during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Bangladesh.

The districts of Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia in West Bengal make up the largest mango producing belt in eastern India.

“Against an average annual yield of 6 to 7 lakh metric tonne (MT), going by the trend, the figure this year is expected cross 10 lakh MT, making it a record,” said S Misra, president, Malda Mango Merchants Association. “But lack of available export avenue has put us in deep trouble,” he said.

According to a study prepared by CUTS Centre for International Trade, Economics & Environment, Bangladesh consumes almost 60 per cent of the mangoes produced in Malda, as few varieties produced here are always in high demand in Bangladesh.

“But Bangladesh has imposed heavy import duty of BDT 36/kg (about Rs 29/kg) on import of mangoes from India. That makes Indian mangoes uncompetitive in the Bangladesh market. Naturally, no Bangladeshi importer is lifting stock from us,” said U Saha, secretary, West Bengal Exporters Coordination Committee.

“We expected it to come in discussion during our PM’s Bangladesh visit. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Our CM also remained silent on this during her meeting with district administration on Monday,” he added.

Malda contributed 5 per cent to the total Indian yield, which is about 50 per cent of the global production. Against this, India’s share in the global mango export market is just 1 per cent.

Streamlined Indo-Bangla mango trade can significantly brighten this picture,” said market experts.

Senior officials from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority ( APEDA) said, “The issue deserves a deep initiative. West Bengal state government may approach Delhi to take it up with Bangladesh at a higher level.”

However, “Without any export to Bangladesh, we are bound to have around 5 lakh tonne surplus after local consumption this year. The local unorganised processing sector alone can consume maximum 15 per cent of that. The rest will remain under the mercy of upcountry agents,” said Misra.

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