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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Tea trade concerned about US-Iran war; basmati export halts

54.4 million kg of tea was exported to Iran by November 2019 while a total of 5.280 million kg of tea was exported to CIS countries

Heightened tensions between the US and Iran have begun to reflect on Indian exports. After the US drone killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iran retaliated by firing rockets and mortars at American installations in Iraq, domestic trade organisation All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has asked exporters to stop exporting basmati rice to Tehran until the situation is normal. At the same time, the tea industry has expressed concern that tensions between the two countries may affect the export of tea to Tehran. The US killed Major General Qasim Sulemani of Iran in a drone attack on Friday, after which the fears of war in the Middle East have deepened.

Tea Board Chairman PK Bezbaruah said, “If there is a war between the US and Iran, it will have an impact.” Iran has emerged as India’s largest tea importer after the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).

According to Tea Board data, 54.4 million kg of tea was exported to Iran by November 2019 while a total of 5.280 million kg of tea was exported to CIS countries. “Tea exporters turned to the Iranian market last year due to higher prices,” he said. Atul Asthana, former ITA chairman and MD and CEO of Goodreak Group, said, “Tea will not be able to be exported to Iran if there is a fight.”

Officials, however, said that if tea exports to Iran were interrupted, the industry would consider exporting to CIS countries again, but there would not be much price negotiation.

In view of the recent tension between the US and Iran, the domestic trade organization All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has asked the exporters to stop the export of basmati rice to Iran until the situation becomes normal. AIREA has said that Iran is a major importer of Basmati rice in India and if there is an impact on exports, domestic prices will be affected, which will affect the farmers.

In the last financial year, India exported basmati rice worth Rs 32,800 crore, of which rice worth about Rs 10,800 crore was exported to Iran.

AIREA President Nathi Ram Gupta said, “In the present situation it is not possible to export basmati rice to Iran. We have issued an advisory to our members, asking them to take precaution and not to export rice to Iran until the situation is normal. ‘

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