With the Centre restricting import of arecanut only to users (gutka and pan masala makers), and as a consequence, excluding leather industry from importing it as raw material, those growing the cash crop are expected to benefit, according to a Hindu report. Anup K Pujari, Director-General of Foreign Trade, has informed Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (CAMPCO) that the recent public notice will be advantageous for domestic arecanut growers.
In a clarification sent to CAMPCO president Kankodi Padmanatha, he has said that prior to the issue of public notice anyone could import arecanut under duty free schemes. Padmanatha told presspersons that the leather industries which used to import arecanut for extracting tannin could no longer do so. Arecanut growers had been resorting to distress sale since mid May following the notice and the price of white arecanut fell from Rs 180 to Rs 155, he said.
Arecanut was said to be imported for tannin extraction. After extraction, arecanut was being sold to gutka manufacturers at low prices. Also, in North India, arecanut was being bought illegally. While there was good demand for it in Gujarat, there was low demand for it in Kerala, where gutka use was less, a press release said.
The notice issued by DGFT said: “Henceforth, import of arecanut as an input will be permitted only when it is by an actual user or by anybody (including the actual user) if it is specifically mentioned in the Centre's Standard Input and Output Norms (SION).” This caused confusion leading to distress sale.
After the notice, Padmanabha, in a letter to DGFT, requested clarity on the issue of after the fall in the prices of arecanut. In reply, Mr. Pujari said after the public notice was issued, the class of persons permitted to effect such imports would get limited to (a) actual users and (b) such importers only and only when the respective SION specifically included arecanut as a permissible input. It further said: “It is not the Government's intention to cause any impediment to manufacturing units (actual users). But non-manufacturing units will face a restriction...”
According to the website of DGFT: “SION consists of standard norms that define the amount of inputs required to manufacture unit of output for export purpose. Input-output norms are applicable for products such as electronics, engineering, chemical, food products, including fish and marine products, handicraft, plastic and leather products. SION is notified by … and is approved by its Boards of Directors. An application for modification of the existing standard input-output norms may be filed by the manufacturer-exporter and merchant-exporter. The DGFT, from time to time, issues notifications for fixing or addition of SION for different export products.”