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Study for long-term strategy for plantation sector

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THE UNION MINISTER for Commerce and Industry, Mr Kamal Nath, addressing a review meeting of plantation and agricultural sectors in the Capital on Monday. — Ramesh Sharma

New Delhi , July 10

In order to work out long-term strategies for the plantation sector, the Union Commerce & Industry Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, today said that the Government would undertake a Competitiveness Study on the sector soon. He said this after a review meeting chaired by him on the plantation and agricultural sectors here today, said an official release.

Mooting the proposal at an extensive interaction with representatives of plantation and processed food sectors, Mr Nath said that such a study was imperative to assess the global competitiveness of the plantation sector (tea, coffee, rubber, tobacco) and to work out long term strategies for the development of this vital sector on which many small growers in the country depend for their livelihood.

The Minister further indicated that the issue of non-tariff barriers facing Indian exports, especially processed foods, would be taken up strongly with major trading partners.

As part of the WTO ongoing negotiations, India has been pressing for removal of tariff peaks and tariff escalations in developed countries, which affect exports from India, he added. APEDA, in particular, flagged the problem of tariff escalations, which refer to higher tariff imposed by developed countries on imports of value-added products.

The meeting was attended by Mr S.N. Menon, Commerce Secretary; Mr Rahul Khullar, Additional Secretary, and chairmen of all commodity boards under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry including Tea Board, Coffee Board, Rubber Board, Tobacco Board, Spices Board and the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

The meeting noted that the share of processed foods as a percentage of India's total agricultural exports had increased from 20 per cent a couple of years ago to 36 per cent today, with exports having crossed Rs 7,000 crore during the last financial year.

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