Vietnam, India work to adjust back-to-back bans on commodity imports

By VnExpress   March 18, 2017 | 12:35 pm GMT+7

India's ban has been in place since March 7, causing a holdup in Vietnamese coffee shipments and pushing down pepper prices.

Vietnam has requested the Indian government to abolish a ban on the import of its six commodities, including coffee and pepper, the Vietnamese government said in a Friday statement.

India may have agreed with the request and will remove restrictions against the Vietnamese goods in question, the Saigon Times quoted a Vietnamese pepper industry official Saturday as saying, a development VnExpress International could not immediately verify independently.

India imposed the ban against six commodities from Vietnam, which also included cinnamon, bamboo, cassia and dragon fruit, effective from March 7 after Vietnam's agriculture ministry had ruled to suspend the import of India's five agricultural commodities for 60 days starting March 1, citing the infection of peanut beetle.

Vietnam's Industry and Trade Ministry, in an official letter, told India to uphold international practice -= referring to the ban, the government statement said, adding that it had Thursday asked the Vietnam embassy in India to deliver the letter.

The letter also urged India to "soon abolish the suspension of the import", the government statement said.

India has agreed to remove the suspension against several items, the Saigon Times quoted Nguyen Mai Oanh, deputy chairwoman of the Vietnam Pepper Association, as saying late Friday. 

"India will abolish the suspension order on the import of agro-products from Vietnam", after Vietnam's agriculture ministry officials met Thursday with the Indian embassy in Hanoi, she was quoted as saying.

In return, Vietnam will adjust its decision on the suspension of five commodities from India and resume their import, Oanh said in the report.

India's ban has delayed several shipments of Vietnamese coffee and pushed down pepper prices on Vietnam's domestic markets in recent days, traders and industry officials say. Vietnam is the world's largest exporter of robusta coffee and black pepper.

The country's coffee export volume on March 1-15 fell 10 percent from the same period last year to 81,000 tons, based on Vietnam Customs' data released Friday.

Traders in Vietnam said if the situation is prolonged, Indian roasters would have had to buy their raw material from African nations.

While domestic pepper prices have eased, due in part also to the ongoing harvest, Vietnam has shipped 13,600 tons of the spice in the first half of March to various destinations, up 31 percent from a year ago, based on customs data.

Last year India, the third-biggest buyer of Vietnamese pepper after the United States and the United Arab Emirates, imported 11,100 tons of the spice, up 37 percent from 2015, the customs data showed.

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