FINGER ON THE PULSE: Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud returned from a whirlwind trip to India feeling optimistic about trade relations.
FINGER ON THE PULSE: Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud returned from a whirlwind trip to India feeling optimistic about trade relations. Tobi Loftus

India promises to provide more warning

AGRICULTURAL Minister David Littleproud returned from a "whirlwind" trip to India on January 22, saying discussions with Indian officials over the recently introduced tariff on imported chickpeas went better than expected.

Mr Littleproud said agreements by the Indian government to give more ample warning when imposing tariffs would allow farmers to prepare for market changes.

"The concessions given by the Indian government indicated that they do still value Australia as an impor- tant trading partner," he said.

The trip was spurred on by the Indian government's sudden decision to impose a 30 per cent tariff on imported chickpeas, an announcement that virtually "killed the market stone dead", accord- ing to Killarney chickpea grower Rod Petersen.

The decision left farmers such as Mr Petersen with tonnes of chickpeas he could not sell.

Mr Littleproud said the Indian government also agreed to provide more information about India's domestic production and stock trends, which would give Australian farmers a better line of sight when planning their yearly crops.

"India had a particularly good couple of years with their domestic chickpea production, but they do consume a lot of chickpeas so we expect the market to pick back up," he said.

He was glad the trip confirmed an ongoing positive trading relationship between the two countries, and said there were negotiations for a formal free trade agreement in the works.

"They do listen to use when we have issues and we give them support as well," Mr Littleproud said.

He also said there were arrangements in place to open up other markets for the Australian chickpeas that were already in transit when the tariff was introduced.

Some would go to Nepal and the UAE as well as Iran, where market access had opened up in the last 12 months.

"It's all about spreading the risk globally and keeping our options open if something like this does come in," Mr Littleproud said.



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