ITA moots blend packet for Pakistan market

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Kolkata, Apr 17 (UNI) Indian Tea Association (ITA), the apex body of tea producers in India, today sought Pakistan Tea Association's (PTA) support for evolving an Indian blend packet for capturing the huge tea market in Pakistan.

ITA has decided to prepare a project report with support from PTA to evolve the blend packet specifically for the Pakistan market, ITA vice-chairman Aditya Khaitan told reporters here today after a meeting with the 14-member PTA delegation visiting India.

Once evolved, the Indian blend packet could be launched by a select packer in Pakistan with support from Indian Tea Board through its market promotion initiative schemes, Mr Khaitan suggested.

In a bid to boosting tea exports to Pakistan on a sustained basis, ITA has also suggested the Tea Board to take up the issue of direct rail link between ICD Amingaon and Karachi with senior government officials.

'' This will reduce transit time transportation cost and make Indian tea competitive in Pakistan. It will also enable tea produced in north India gain inroads to Pakistan,'' Mr Khaitan said.

Meanwhile, both PTA and ITA have been jointly pursuing their respective governments towards gradual reduction of import duty to zero per cent under the SAFTA and SAPTA framework.

'' We had taken up the issue of zero import duty on tea in Pakistan during a high level meeting in Islamabad. The process of discussions are on and a decision from the governments is expected to emerge soon,'' PTA chairman Muhammad Altaf, leading the delegation in India, said.

Pakistan is amongst the largest importers of CTC teas with annual imports hovering around 140 million kgs.

In 2005, Pakistan imported 9.29 million kgs from India. Mainly tea produced in south India was imported.

Major portion of around 90 million kgs of imports come from Kenya, while around 40 million kgs were smuggled through the Afgan Transit Trade route.

UNI TJP KK/SRC1710

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