China lifts restrictions on imports of non-basmati rice from India

China has granted phytosanitary clearances to 14 Indian rice exporters.

The Dollar Business Bureau 

Good news for Indian rice exporters! China has for the first time granted phytosanitary clearances to 14 Indian rice exporters, including Amira Pure Foods, LT Foods and Kohinoor Foods after it had imposed non-tariff barriers on imports of non-basmati rice from India. The other Indian rice exporters who have also received exports approvals from China include Best Foods, DRRK Foods, Ebro India, KRBL, MR Overseas, Nature Bio Foods, Pari India, Sarveshwar Foods, SSA International, Sunstar Overseas and United Exports.

In September, a team consisting of 19 Indian rice millers visited China to address their concerns with the relevant Chinese authorities, following which China announced in a recent communication to the Indian government that it has okayed for 14 rice exporting companies out of the 19 to ship non-basmati rice into the Chinese market.

Several officials from China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine paid their visits to these mills, located in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh to inspect the quality of rice and the methods adopted by these millers in making the commodity safe and secured.

The rice exporters have to be registered with India’s National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) if they plan to ship their commodities to China. China had restricted imports of non-basmati rice citing concerns over the presence of khapra beetle in India’s crop. The decision comes at a time when India’s commodity exports, including rice have been witnessing a sharp decline.

However, India continues to be a major exporter of basmati rice to China, even though exports have been declining over the past few years. India’s exports of basmati rice to China in 2015-16 stood at $3.86 billion against $4.78 billion in 2014-15 and $5.03 billion in 2013-14.    

The International Grains Council (IGC) estimated China to import about 4.1 million tonnes of rice in 2016-17, slightly down from 4.2 million tonnes a year earlier, while India’s rice exports during the same period will grow marginally to 10.5 million tonnes from 10.4 million tonnes a year ago.

India’s rice exports fell considerably to $5.79 billion in 2015-16 as against $7.84 billion in 2014-15, but rice exports still accounted for 18% of country’s total farm exports last year.

Earlier this year, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister met Chinese ambassador-designate to India and expressed her concerns about the delay in issuing clearances. India has been seeking greater market access for its farm and commodity products, especially since India’s trade deficit with China has continued to rise over the years. India’s trade deficit with China mounted to almost $53 billion in 2015-16 from $48.48 billion in the previous fiscal. This year, its trade deficit with China has already reached $25.22 billion during the April-September period of 2016-17

The Dollar Business Bureau - Dec 03, 2016 12:00 IST