THE INDIAN Government on Friday announced it has suspended its tariffs on desi chickpeas until March next year.

Effective immediately, the much-anticipated announcement has come ahead of planting of the crop, which will start later this month in southern and Central Queensland and northern New South Wales.

The Australian Government’s Trade and Investment’s South Asia commissioner  John Southwell yesterday posted the news on LinkedIn.

“India has issued a notification that has eliminated tariffs on desi chickpeas (Bengal gram – HS code 07132020) until 31 March 2025,” Mr Southwell’s post states.

“This is the first time India has reduced its duties on desi chickpeas since the crippling imposition of tariffs in 2017-2018 and reflects a need to bring pulse prices under control.”

India’s tariff on desi chickpeas has equated to around 66 percent of the price.

It was imposed after much of Australia’s record 2016-17 crop of 2 million tonnes (Mt) had been exported.

Challenging seasons and the Indian tariffs mean no crop since has exceeded 1Mt.

Excellent subsoil moisture in Australia’s major growing regions, as well as anticipation about the reopening of the Indian market, mean a crop of more than 1Mt seems certain this year.

Welcome news

Grains Australia conducts industry-good functions and services, and has welcomed India’s suspension of tariffs on desi chickpeas as a great outcome for both Australia and the Indian pulse market.

“This welcome decision by the Indian Government shows the value of continued, respectful government and industry engagement with a highly valued trading partner,” Grains Australia Pulse Council chair Peter Wilson said.

Tariffs on chickpeas initially equating to 33pc were first established by India in 2017-18, effectively eliminating Australian chickpea exports into India, the world’s biggest consumer of chickpeas.

Mr Wilson said the suspension of the tariffs was likely to deliver more reliable pricing for Australian chickpeas and add depth to already solid markets.

“It will increase competition for Australian chickpeas which are already exported into other important markets including Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.”

Grains Australia general manager trade and market access John Ackerman said Grains Australia, in collaboration with industry and government, looked forward to working with the Indian Government to build on the important development.

“It is a wonderful opportunity and we will be focused on ensuring we are meeting the needs of our chickpea markets, including supplying an affordable, high quality product,” Dr Ackerman said.

Grain Central