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Tea exporters worried over payments as India stops crude imports from Iran.

Date: 29-05-2019
Subject: Tea exporters worried over payments as India stops crude imports from Iran
Kolkata: There’s more uncertainty now among Indian tea exporters as India stops importing crude oil from Iran following US’ move to end May 2 waivers that had allowed top buyers of Iranian oil, including India, to continue with their imports for six months. The exporters are worried over payments against their orthodox tea exports and are eager to know the amount of money (rupees) lying with the Indian government against the import of oil from Iran. 

Due to banking sanctions imposed by the US for doing business with Iran, India and Iran have been carrying out trade through a rupee account in the country’s UCO Bank. As per the mechanism, India deposits payments in rupee to Iran’s account for the oil purchased and then uses it to make payments to Indian exporters of goods to Iran. Talking to ET, Anish Bhansali, managing partner, Bhansali & Co, said “The crisis is deepening. We have no clarity on what amount of money (rupees) is still lying with the Indian government. We have asked UCO officials, but they seem to have no definite answer at this point of time. There are plenty of orders, but we are worried over the payment issue. Also, if the sanctions are made stricter, then shipping lines may refuse to ship teas to Iran.” 

Iran buys around 28-30 million kg of orthodox teas from India. It is one of the biggest markets for premium orthodox teas. This year the demand from Iran is robust which has pushed prices of orthodox teas by 19 per cent year-on-year. The average price of orthodox tea is around Rs 250.51 per kg compared with Rs 210.77 per kg during the same time last year. 

Azam Monem, director, McLeod Russel India, is however hopeful that the new government will be able to find out ways to settle the payment. “Narendra Modi has a good relation with the US and we are hopeful that he will work out some special dispensation for tea,” he said. 

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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