Amritsar traders hope new ICP will provide respite to green tea trade
Amritsar, May 21 (ANI): Tea traders in Amritsar on Monday expressed hope that the new Integrated Check Post (ICP) at the Attari Border with Pakistan would provide some respite for the green tea business.
Looking forward to the opening of the ICP, they said it would further strengthen India's trade links with Pakistan and reactivate the traditional trade route through Pakistan to Afghanistan, Central Asia, Morocco, Iran and Iraq.
Before the partition of the Indian subcontinent, Amritsar was the hub of the tea trade. The green tea business had a trade volume worth over Rs.1000 crores at one time.
They said that tea from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh and from other parts of North India used to be exported to Central Asia and Afghanistan.
But after partition, they said, that Pakistan had virtually put a stop to trade of tea from across the Attari border.
"Punjab's annual turnover from green and black tea exceeds Rs 1000 crore, which could double, if Pakistan allows the export of tea across the Attari border and allows transit to Afghanistan," said R.K. Goel, former president of the Amritsar Tea Traders' Association.
He said the association represents tea traders of Punjab, as Amritsar contributes the maximum to the trade, and was once the only tea-trading hub in Punjab before other cities entered to compete through their own tea-processing units.
Describing Pakistan as the second largest importer of tea from Kenya and Sri Lanka, Goeal said: "We are sitting here so near and can fulfill the demands of not only Pakistan, but even of Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.Pakistan must cooperate.'
Amritsar tea traders used to import green tea from Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and south India and process it here, said Sanjeev Mehra, a tean company owner.
He said there is a lack of political will at present, and felt that with the opening up of an ICP, trade would get a major fillip. (ANI)
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