Tea Growers Seeking Open Border Crossing with Pakistan

AMRITSAR, Punjab, India

Prior to independence, this border city of 1.1 million northwest of Chandigarh was the center of a $180 million annual tea trade along the Pakistan border.

Traders here hope that lucrative business may soon return. Restrictions on tea imports enforced at the Attari Border are under review.  Currently Pakistan prohibits movement of any commercial amounts of tea but an easing of tensions between the former tea trading partners may soon open the Integrated Check Post (ICP) and “provide some respite for the green tea business,” according to a report published by News Track India.

"Punjab's annual turnover from green and black tea exceeds INRs 1000 crore, which could double, if Pakistan allows the export of tea across the Attari border and allows transit to Afghanistan," said R.K. Goel, former president of the Amritsar Tea Traders' Association.

Opening the border will strengthen India's trade links with Pakistan and reopen the traditional trade route through Pakistan to Afghanistan, Central Asia, Morocco, Iran and Iraq. Tea grown in Kangra in Himachal Pradesh and other parts of North India must now travel the long journey south to ports where it is then shipped north to Karachi.

India’s tea is grown a scant 20 miles away, but since the division of the sub-continent Pakistan has become the second largest importer of tea from Kenya and Sri Lanka.

"We are sitting here so near and can fulfill the demands of not only Pakistan, but even of Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. Pakistan must cooperate,” Goel told News Track India. If the border crossing opens, he predicted the region once again would see many metric tons of green tea from Assam, West Bengal and Tripura.

Source: News Track India