India suspends imports of six Vietnamese agro-products

By Ho Binh Minh   March 8, 2017 | 01:34 am PT
The move comes after the Vietnamese government's decision to halt five commodities from India.

India has suspended the import of six commodities from Vietnam, including coffee beans and black pepper, citing pest infections, India's agriculture ministry said.

This came only days after Hanoi took a similar action against five agro-products from India.

India's suspension, which came into effect March 7, also targets bamboo, cinnamon, cassia and dragon fruit "in view of the repeated interception of quarantine pests," India's Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said in a letter sent to Vietnam's Plant Protection Department March 6 and seen by VnExpress International on Wednesday.

Vietnam is the world's largest exporter of robusta coffee and black pepper.

India is home to the world's third-fastest growing retail coffee market after Indonesia and Turkey, according to Mintel, a global market intelligence agency. The country also ranks the third-largest importer of Vietnamese pepper after the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

In the same letter, India has also requested the Vietnamese agency "not to issue phytosanitary certificates for these six commodities for export to India."

It did not say when the suspension would be lifted or specify which type of pest had been found in shipments from Vietnam. 

An official at the Hanoi-based Plant Protection Department confirmed the receipt of the letter from India.

India's move against Vietnamese commodities came after the Vietnamese government published a directive earlier this month, saying it will suspend the import of India's five agricultural commodities in 60 days starting March 1, citing the infection of peanut beetle.

India spent $79.4 million to import 46,000 tons of coffee from Vietnam in 2016, a tiny fraction of the country's total export volume last year of 1.78 million tons, based on Vietnam's customs data.

India also bought 11,000 tons of Vietnamese pepper at $84.2 million last year, or 6 percent of the Southeast Asian nation's total export volume of the spice.

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