India agrees to work on easing pulse fumigation requirements before end of 2018


India’s government has agreed to work with Canadian officials to ease pest-related restrictions on pulse imports before the end of this year.

“India and Canada will work closely together to finalize an arrangement within 2018 to enable the export of Canadian pulses to India free from pests of quarantine importance, with mutually acceptable technological protocols,” says a joint statement issued by both countries after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on Friday.

While other aspects of Trudeau’s trip to India have drawn plenty of negative publicity, Canada’s pulse crop industry was hoping the prime minister would urge India to remove its tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pulse imports. India — Canada’s largest pulse crop export market — recently implemented 30 to 50 percent import tariffs on peas, lentils and chickpeas to protect domestic farmers against competing supplies. India also removed a long-running exemption to fumigation requirements last fall, requiring imports be fumigated for pests with methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting chemical that is not used in Canada.

Pulse Canada says the pulse trade challenges were “high on the agenda during bilateral discussions between the Prime Minister of India and the Prime Minister of Canada.”

Related: Pulses likely on the menu for Trudeau’s trip to India, but will they be on the agenda?

Chris Chivilo, president and CEO of Innisfail, Alberta-based pulse processor W.A. Grain & Pulse Solutions, participated in a CEO panel with both prime ministers. Pulse Canada says Chivilo urged the leaders to find a resolution to the fumigation issue, and emphasized the need for predictability and transparent government policy changes regarding pulse trade.

“The pulse industry made real progress today,” says Chivilo, in a statement from Pulse Canada. “The joint statement issued after the meeting I attended is an important milestone in pulse trade relations between Canada and India. The Prime Ministers have recognized the importance of food security and science-based approaches to plant protection policy. We will need to continue this collaboration and finalize solutions that will work for both Canada and India.”

Saskatchewan farmer Lee Moats, chair of Pulse Canada’s board of directors, was also in India, and spoke with Trudeau.

“The industry has been working alongside the Canadian government to address the challenges of the evolving pulse trade relationship with India,” says Moats. “It is clear to me that we can count on the Prime Minister to be in our corner.”

The joint statement from the Indian and Canadian governments said the prime ministers “emphasized the importance of ensuring access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all, and noted that transparency and predictability of market access conditions, including sharing of information on production of agricultural commodities, are key in advancing the food security goals of both countries.”

There was no word on whether the leaders discussed the tariffs on pea, lentil and chickpea imports.

The Canadian government also agreed to continue working with Indian officials to facilitate access for organic product imports from India.

More to come.

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