China agrees to import rice from 17 mills in India


In a major breakthrough that New Delhi had been waiting for, China has agreed to import rice, non-basmati and basmati varieties, from 17 registered mills in India, following efforts to ensure market access for Indian products in that country.

India had repeatedly sought market access for items including non-basmati rice, pharmaceuticals and many fruits and vegetables among others, citing the country’s widening goods trade deficit with China. India’s goods trade deficit with China has ballooned from $1.1 billion in 2003-04 to $52.7 billion in 2015-16.

China is the world’s largest rice importer. However, Beijing had so far not granted market access to India’s non-basmati rice claiming that the item had failed to meet Chinese norms on quality, health and safety. Its apprehensions included the possibility of the Khapra beetle (or cabinet beetle) pest getting transported along with Indian non-basmati rice consignments to China.

Official sources said after numerous requests from the Indian side, Chinese officials visited India in September to inspect 19 rice mills registered with the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO). These mills are in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. To export to nations including China, it is mandatory that Indian rice exporters are registered with NPPO, the Indian government agency for inspecting the mills and granting certificates on plant health for export purposes.

The NPPO assisted its Chinese counterpart AQSIQ during the inspection for pest-risk analysis and plant quarantine purposes to ensure that the non-basmati consignments from India will be pest-free, safe and of good quality.

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Indian Commerce Ministry was also involved in the process. India had earlier sent the information sought by AQSIQ regarding the quality protocol and standard operating procedures, the sources said.

They said the Indian embassy in Beijing informed the Commerce Ministry that Chinese authorities, last week, cleared 17 of these 19 mills for rice exports to China. The Commerce Ministry has forwarded the list to APEDA and asked it to inform rice exporters to soon find customers in China.


Readers choice: TOP-5 articles of the month by UkrAgroConsult