February 23 – Did Canada’s Prime Minister Stop the Lentils Import Taxes in India?

After a few weeks without rain and Canadian Prime Minster there face-to-face, is India starting to come its senses about pulse import taxes?

After a few weeks without rain (which could potentially negatively impact the Rabi crop), and Canadian PM Trudeau there face-to-face, is India starting to come its senses about pulse import taxes?

Actually, no, they’re not.

Far from it, in fact. 

Yes, I’m shaking my head in unison with you. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just wrapped up a week-long trip to India that was by all accounts, uneventful. 

Going into the week, many people (including yours truly) were doubtful that Canadian Prime Minister’s trip to India wouldn’t do anything for pulses whatsoever (namely because there wasn’t actually a lot of agricultural business on the agenda). 

In fact, last Sunday, I shared a photo of Trudeau arriving in India. Instead of being received by an equivalent or high-level dignitary, the Canadian Prime Minister was welcomed on the red carpet by a state-level agriculture minister (the lowest-ranking official a Canadian Prime Minister has ever been received by in the past 70 years!)

On the subject of pulse trade specifically, I had a good conversation with the MacLeans reporter about the subject, but he only quoted me once in his article (albeit I gave him lots of fodder to write the rest of it).

The one thing I noted in our conversation is how the fumigation exemption has been kicked down the road for another 6 months for the last 14 years.

If you’re trying to do the math, that’s 28 fumigation exemptions.

And then we got this joint-statement from the Canadian and Indian Prime Ministers:

“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.”

Is there an end in sight for the fumigation policy?

It seems to be the case. 

However, nothing about the ridiculous import taxes was mentioned.

For the record, there were plenty of private Canadian agricultural members in India this past week.

However, Canadian Agricultural Minister Lawrence Macaulay didn’t make the cut.

While we take the fumigation statement has a feather in the cap, the lack of transparency in pulse trade policy between India and North America, especially Canada, is downright scary (and maybe why the Canadian government is afraid to talk about it to its constituents or at all).

India agrees to ease 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.”

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.”

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

H/T: RealAgriculture
About the Author
Brennan Turner

Brennan Turner is the CEO of FarmLead.com, North America’s Grain Marketplace. He holds a degree in economics from Yale University and spent time on Wall Street in commodity trade and analysis before starting FarmLead. In 2017, Brennan was named to Fast Company’s List of Most Creative People in Business and, in 2018, a Henry Crown Fellow. He is originally from Foam Lake, Saskatchewan where his family started farming the land nearly 100 years ago (and still do to this day!). Brennan's unique grain markets analysis can be found in everything from small-town print newspapers to large media outlets such as Bloomberg and Reuters.