Port Wings News Network:
The importers of most popular fruit apple via Chennai Port have appealed to the Union Commerce Minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman to amend the latest DGFT Notification that restricted the import of apples to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) Nhava Sheva, Mumbai, alone.
In the Notification No.21/2015-2020, issued by the DGFT under the Ministry of Commerce in the Government of India, apples are allowed to be imported only through JNPT Nhava Sheva alone.
With a view to prevail upon the Commerce Ministry’s “Illogical decision,” the Tamil Chamber of Commerce (TCC) has sent a memorandum seeking amendment to the notification that banned import of apples through Chennai Port as well as other ports in the country.
Speaking to Port Wings, Mr Chozha Naachiar Rajasekar, President, TCC, said, “On behalf of the importers of apples at Chennai Port and members of Tamil Chamber of Commerce, we sent the appeal to the Commerce Minister Ms Sitharaman for immediate consideration and necessary remedial action on the sudden ban which is affecting the entire South India.”
Mr Rajasekar stated: “The apples falling in 08081000 of ITC, H.S was hitherto allowed import free without any restriction. Now, on Sept 14 vide DGFT Notification No 21/ 2015-2020, the apples are allowed to be imported only through Nhava Sheva port (JNPT).”
LOPSIDED & ILLOGICAL DECISION BY COMMERCE MINISTRY:
The latest DGFT notification, which has been perceived by the trade as lopsided and ill-advised, has put the importers of apples at Chennai Port for consumption by people in and around Chennai, the state of Tamil Nadu and neighboring states into lot of difficulties.
The apples are imported in refrigerated Containers from abroad and it is mostly imported from USA, Australia and Fuji Island.
Without considering the demography of the country and presence of major ports in the east coast, the DGFT notification has said that the fruit has to be imported through JNPT, which is thousands of kilometers away from Chennai, one of the main consumption centre.
Mr Rajasekar stated: “If the consignments are to be imported only at Nhava Sheva, then the goods should be transported in refrigerated container or trucks to Chennai and other places involving huge freight amount pushing the price in the hands of consumers adding to food inflation, which is avoidable. Apples are not grown in Tamil Nadu or the neighboring states and it has to be procured from states like Himachal Pradesh and even there sufficient quantity is not available.”
NO PUBLIC INTEREST IN THE SUDDEN RESTRICTION:
“As per paragraph 1.02 of the Foreign Trade Policy the Central Government, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 5 of FT (D&R) Act, 1992, as amended from time to time, reserves the right to make any amendment to the FTP, by means of notification, in public interest. There appears to be no public interest in the sudden restriction of the port of import. Instead serving the public interest it may result in cartelization of the trade to the detriment of the consumers and to prevent monopoly of particular port in the West Coast of the country. We request that the above notification should be amended and import may be allowed through all major ports having PQ and FSSAI officers. This will avoid escalation of the cost of imported apples and ensure easy availability of apples to all the consumers at reasonable cost,” Mr Rajasekar added.
CHENNAI PORT IS THE GATEWAY OF EAST COAST:
Besides, the importers also listed out strong reasons for seeking amendments to DGFT notification to allow Chennai Port for import of apples.
It may be noted that Chennai Port is the gateway of East Coast and serving the trade of South India. Furthermore, the two container terminals --DP World and PSA --at Chennai Port have all facilities to handle fresh fruit imports of reefer containers.
“The Chennai Port is having a fully fledged FSSAI Office with lab facilities for testing the fruits. The Regional Plant Quarantine Station with full-fledged facilities for testing fruits which is situated near Chennai Port,” he added.
“Due to ban on handling iron ore, coal at Chennai Port, the facility is incurring revenue loss year after year and the recent ban for import of apples through this port will add further revenue loss to the Port and also affect the Custom Duty collections at Chennai Customs Commissionerate,” Mr Rajasekar further added.
With the ban on import of apples through Chennai Port, the large network of wholesale and retail sales involving businesses and trade activities connected with fruit businesses is likely to be affected, concluded Mr Rajasekar.