INDIA has extended its tariff-free period for lentils by 12 months to 31 March 2025, a move which has been welcomed by the Australian pulse industry.
India is Australia’s biggest market by far for lentils, and in recent years has been the destination for close to half the product shipped since the tariff was removed in October 2021.
Grains Australia is responsible for industry services and functions that improve competitiveness and profitability for Australian grains, oilseeds and pulses including lentils.
It has welcomed the recent extension of tariff-free access for lentil exports to India, which also imports from other origins, particularly Canada.
According to a Grains Australia statement, the Indian Government advised of the extension via a notification dated 21 December 2023, and Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry was formally notified of the extension through Australia’s Agriculture Counsellor in New Delhi.
Grains Australia Pulse Council chair Peter Wilson said the zero-tariff extension represented a great opportunity for Australian producers both now and for the 2024 growing season.
“It provides instructive market signals for Australian lentil growers, who can plan with greater confidence their cropping programs for 2024,” Mr Wilson said.
Grains Australia general manager trade and market access John Ackerman also welcomed the news.
“India is a historically valuable market for Australian lentils and other grains, and Grains Australia continues to work collaboratively with industry to strengthen ties with this important trading partner,” Dr Ackerman said.
Under the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement, tariffs on lentils had previously received a 50 percent reduction of the most-favoured nation (MFN) tariff at 30pc within an annual quota of 150,000 tonnes.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Australia exported a record 1.75 million tonnes (Mt) of lentils in the year to 30 September 2023, with India the destination for 821,479t.
Australia is now at the tail end of its lentil harvest, and ABARES last month forecast the national crop at 1.39Mt, down from a record 1.69Mt in 2022-23.
Planting of Australia’s new-crop lentils will start in April, and crop size will depend on rainfall in key growing areas in South Australia and Victoria.