Amritsar, June 21 (ANI): Tea traders in Amritsar have demanded the opening up of trade with Pakistan, as it would provide entry into the markets of Central Asia where tea is in great demand.
Amritsar Tea Traders' Association President Rajinder Goel said that Pakistan imports tea in large amounts from China and Sri Lanka, but never from India due to strained political relations.
Goel said that since the land transit route to Pakistan has been shut, their exports to Afghanistan have also been affected, as the consignment has to travel via the same route.
"We have strained our political relations with Pakistan, so they stopped importing tea from India. We got a huge jolt by their decision. Pakistan closed the land transit route, which is also the route to Afghanistan," said Goel.
"If we have to export tea, then a trader would first have to send their produce to Mumbai, which would then be passed on to Karachi port in Pakistan and then the transshipment would take place. Exports through this route proves to be very expensive for us and there is also a possibility for the tea to get spoilt," he added.
The traders feel that Pakistani consumers would also benefit if trade barriers are eased since they would get good quality tea at reasonable price.
Former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Darbari Lal said: "The Indian government must realise that Amritsar's tea market could further expand, if Pakistan reduces the duty on Indian tea as this would provides a land transit route to Central Asia
"After the partition in 1947, Pakistan completely stopped importing green tea. Earlier, green tea would be sent to Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan and even Morocco. There are a lot of tea production houses in Amritsar. If the government of India speaks to the Pakistan government and asks them to reduce the import duty, then not only would the traders benefit but the Pakistani consumers would also be happy," he added.
India is the largest producer of tea in the world, while Pakistan is the second largest importer of tea from various countries. By Sawinder Singh (ANI)