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The export of tea produced in West Bengal's Siliguri District to Pakistan has reached an all-time high; cheering traders who are increasingly looking to utilise third country platforms to cement their position.
Traders believe that the large volume of exports could forge stronger trade ties between the two nations.
Kamal Kumar Tiwari, an exporter from Siliguri, said Indian tea was being exported to several parts of the world, including the Middle East, Pakistan and Russia among others.
"The tea produced in North Bengal is CTC tea and green tea. Green tea is mainly popular in the Amritsar market, from where it is exported. But, the CTC tea is mainly popular in North India and is exported all over. The tea is exported to Middle East, Pakistan, Russia, Europe and other countries," he said.
Tiwari said they would fail to meet their export target to Pakistan this year, since the price of tea has risen.
"We have expectations to export about 30 million kilograms of tea to Pakistan. 30 million is not possible now, because tea prices have risen. The export could rise by two to three million kilograms, but yes, overall exports have risen," he said.
Tea traders in West Bengal had earlier welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Pakistan, under which about 50 million kilograms of tea would be exported to the neighbouring country in the next three years.
They said that this memorandum would be beneficial for the Indian tea industry and would boost tea export.
A journalist, Porag Biswas, said there has been a significant improvement in the amount of exports to Pakistan from India.
He added that Pakistan Tea Association and the Indian tea counterpart have decided to make tea an item of export through the Wagah border.
"Of course, there has been a significant improvement in the amount of exports to Pakistan from India. Last year, it was about 20 million and it has increased by four million. There has been a Memorandum of Understanding also and the target has been revised. Earlier, the target was much higher, then it was made lower and again, they have made it higher. We are targeting 30 million by 2015. Apart from that, the PTA and the Indian tea counterpart, they have decided to make tea an item of export through the Wagah border. Secondly, the ITA has also decided to give a hike to the medium and lower- skilled tea growers in this part of the country, especially Doars, Darjeeling, Terai region. That's a very good sign for this part of the country," he said.
Pakistan is the third largest tea importer and is expected to import tea from south India to meet its rising domestic requirement.
India is one of the major producers and exporters of tea in the world market.
The tea production in India for the year 2010 is 960 million kilograms, out of which, south India alone produced 240 million kilograms. (ANI)