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Naidu to lead two-day national consultation on farm sector issues
Jun 22, 2018
Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu will inaugurate and participate in a two-day National Consultation on ‘Making Agriculture Sustainable and Profitable’, at Pune, Maharashtra on Thursday.
This Consultation is organized in the context of the ongoing debate and efforts at various levels to double farmers’ incomes by 2022.
The two day brain storming on various issues relating to farm sector will be attended by the Union Minister for Agriculture, Radhamohan Singh, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, Farm Scientist M.S. Swaminathan, farm sector economist Ashok Gulati, senior officials of government agencies and other stakeholders.
The two-day Consultation is being organised by the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) of which the Vice President of India is the Chairman and Shri Vaikuntha Mehta National Institute of Cooperative Management, Pune.
The two-day Consultation will focus on six themes viz. Creating an enabling policy framework; Intensification of farming diversification to high value agriculture and supplementation of incomes through allied activities Marketing and Agri-logistics Agricultural Trade Policy Transfer of technology from labs to the land and Agricultural credit and insurance.
The concept paper for the National Consultation prepared by IIPA refers to the felt need and an opportunity to reorient governance and further improve policy and programmes to transform farmers’ lives.
The concluding session will be presided over by the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Radhamohan Singh.
The National Consultation on farm sector issues is the second in the Swarajya to Surajya series of National Consultations initiated by the IIPA at the behest of the Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu.
The first one on Strengthening of Local Self Governments was held in Marczh this year in Hyderabad.
India, US officials to discuss trade issues on June 26-27
Jun 22, 2018
Issues pertaining to duty hike by America on steel and aluminium, review of export benefits to certain domestic products and visa tightening norms will come up at the meeting between senior officials of India and the US here next week.
The meeting, on June 26-27, assumes a greater significance as India today announced the decision to raise customs duties on as many as 29 products including pulses as well as iron and steel products imported from the US as a retaliatory action against the tariff hikes by Washington.
These duties on US goods will take effect from August 4.
The decision to impose these taxes in August may give time to the US to take a considered view on all the contentious bilateral trade issues with India.
WTO, global trade witnessing real challenge, says Suresh Prabhu
Jun 22, 2018
Affairs at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the global trading system have been witnessing challenges, with countries putting roadblocks to safeguard their respective interests, commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said on Thursday. The government, however, is trying to be friendly with all the countries, he added. For the first time, the country is seeing a real challenge at WTO and the global trading system itself. Countries are putting roadblocks (to trade) and it is going to be a real issue, Prabhu told industrialists at an Fieo event.
We are not enemies as far as trade is concerned. We want to make friendship. With China, we had huge trade deficit. I invited the Chinese commerce minister to India, signed many agreements and decided not only to reduce trade deficit, but also to bring in balance in trade. The government was also talking with the European Union on the WTO issue, as it was a big marketplace.We are talking to the EU as well as Japan, Korea and Asean countries about these issues. I had invited them and we decided to increase the trade volume, he said.
Exports from SEZs up 38 per cent in May at Rs 29,000 crore
Jun 22, 2018
Exports from special economic zones (SEZs) grew by 38 per cent in May to Rs 29,236 crore, according to data by EPCES.
Export Promotion Council for EoUs and SEZs (EPCES) said the major sectors contributing to the growth include biotech, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computers, electronics, non-conventional energy, plastic, rubber, trading and services.
Further, during April-May this fiscal, exports from these zones rose by 11 per cent to Rs 1.01 lakh crore.
FSSAI extends ban on Chinese milk products by six months to December 23
Jun 22, 2018
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, has further extended the ban on import of milk and milk products from China, including chocolate and chocolate products, which expired on June 23, 2018, by six months, i e till December 23, 2018.
At a recent meeting which took place at the FSSAI headquarters in New Delhi, it was recommended by the concerned department and ministries of the Government of India to extend the ban by six months.
According to the letter, The ban on import of milk and milk products, including chocolates and chocolate products and candies/confectionery/food preparation with milk and milk solids as ingredients from China, may be extended for a period of six months, i e until December 23, 2018 or until their safety is established on the basis of credible reports and supporting data, whichever is earlier.
According to an official from the country’s apex food regulator, The ban has been extended keeping in mind the food and milk safety. Representatives from the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), the animal husbandry department, the Department of Customs and the commerce ministry were present during the meeting. They were of the opinion that the milk that came from China was contaminated with melamine content.
Earlier, a one-year extension was imposed, but we have not received any representation from our Chinese counterparts. We are reconsidering the issue, so the ban has been extended by six months. Based on the scientific evidence, a decision will be taken, the official added.
Supporting FSSAI’s move, B K Gurbani, president, Indian Confectionery Manufacturers’ Association (ICMA), said, The DGFT move on banning the import of milk and milk products from China is viewed positively by the confectionery industry, as Chinese milk and milk products are sub-standard in quality, and it has an adverse effect on the health of those who have consumed these products. Traces of melamine have been found in milk products from China in the past. The confectionery and chocolate products produced in India are far more superior than those made in China.
India is the one of the largest milk-producing countries and the allied products made from the milk. Therefore, chocolate industries, which use milk/milk products like skimmed milk powder (SMP) and whole milk power are available abundantly within the country. And as milk products, are perishable commodities, the shelf life of the product is larger than the use of imported milk products. It does not only encourage producers of milk and allied products, but consumers will also get superior products, he added.
While China has made a remarkable dent in the global market in different product categories, including plastic toys, garments, furniture, machinery etc., but it never made impact on the category of chocolate produced by that country. Even in some European countries, China-made chocolate and milk products are banned, Gurbani said.
Hike in import duty on US produce to India to be applicable from Aug 4
Jun 22, 2018
The hike in import duty on agricultural produce from the United States, such as Bengal gram, lentils (masur) and chickpeas, has been notified by India and will be applicable with effect from August 4, 2018.
The duty has been hiked to 60 per cent for chickpea and Bengal gram, while for lentils it would be 30 per cent, which is an additional 10 per cent in each case.
The increase was not applicable only to agri produce, but to sea products as well. The notification stated that artemia, a kind of shrimp originating from the US, shall be placed in the 15 per cent duty bracket. Previously, it was five per cent.
Other products that will be affected by the Indian hike in tariffs include almonds (fresh and dried), on which an additional duty of 20 per cent will be levied, and fresh apple, on which an additional duty of 25 per cent will be levied. The latter now stands at 50 per cent.
The move was in retaliation to the US’ decision to increase the import duty levied on certain categories of products from India, which had a tariff implication of $241 on India.
Earlier, India notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) about the hike it has made in the duty.
The WTO notification stated that India hereby submitted a revision of Annexes I and II appended to its notification dated May 18, 2018, in which it notified the Council for Trade in Goods of its decision to suspend concessions and other obligations in accordance with Articles 8.2 and 12.5 of the Agreement on Safeguards.
This notification was made in connection with safeguard measures imposed by the United States of America (United States) on imports of certain aluminum and steel articles, vide Presidential Proclamation Numbers 9704 and 9705 (dated March 8, 2018), respectively with the effective date of March 23, 2018.
Kerala waives plantation tax, declares moratorium on agricultural I-T
Jun 22, 2018
The Kerala cabinet has announced a historic decision for waiver of plantation tax and a moratorium on agriculture income tax, meeting the long-pending demand of the state’s plantation sector. The Chief Minister is expected to make an announcement on the floor of the State Assembly during its ongoing session through a statement under Rule 300.
Kerala accounts for 82 per cent of the rubber, 71 per cent of cardamom, six per cent of tea and 21 per cent of coffee produced by the country's plantation sector. Growing production costs and poor price realisation have dealt a body blow to the sector, which has been faced with a financial crisis during the last two years.
The cabinet decision goes to endorse the recommendations made by the Krishnan Nair Commission that studied the myriad issues plaguing the sector. Appointed by the previous Congress-led government, the commission had in its report proposed either scrapping or declaring a five-year moratorium on agriculture income tax.
Tax burden eased
Tamil Nadu does not levy taxes on the plantation sector, but Kerala charges Rs 700 a hectare in plantation tax. The agriculture income tax was 50 per cent of profits, while in other states it is much less.
The current Left Democratic Front government has already reduced the agriculture income tax to 30 per cent. Through its latest decision, it has declared a moratorium on the tax. The commission had also flayed the collection of building tax for the workers’ one-room tenements attached to the plantations.
It has reportedly mooted rebuilding the quarters with at least two bedrooms and the necessary toilet facilities, with a thrust on improving the quality of life of the workers.
The Hindu Businessline
Economy makes it merry in March: Assocham
Jun 22, 2018
Call it an year-end phenomenon, expenditure in Indian economy peaks in March quite sharply as compared to previous month of February and succeeding month of April, with the exception of the new payment kid on the block - mobile wallets, an ASSOCHAM paper noted.
Be it the RTGS, paper clearing, retail electronic clearing or NEFT, most of these indicators on the RBI's governed payment systems showed that expenditure transactions peaked in March 2018 as compared to February or April, both in terms of volume as also value.
Even mobile banking or online banking showed a similar trend while the mobile wallets - which account for small portion of expenditure economy because of regulatory issues, were conspicuous by their divergent trend, as per the RBI data, analysed by the ASSOCHAM Research Team.
The RTGS, the largest Payment System Indicator of the RBI witnessed a jump in the number of transactions from 10.63 million in February to 12.69 million only to return to 10.66 million in April 2018. In value terms, the figure went up from Rs 114,123 billion to Rs 158,779 to return to Rs 120,758 billion for these months in that order.
For the retail electronic clearing, while the volume transactions did not follow the trend, in value terms, the payment went up from Rs 16,678 billion in February to Rs 24,901 billion in March and Rs 18,589 billion in April.
Despite advancement of the Budget from end of February to beginning of that month, the governments, both the Centre and States, tend to bunch the expenditure for March, the closing month of the financial year. In the process, the private sector too follows the pattern, as the state being the largest spender has a spin off effect on the expenditure pattern said, ASSOCHAM secretary general, D.S. Rawat.
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