In a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Karl De Gucht, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said that the recent ban on import of mangoes from India has caused considerable apprehensions and alarm in the country.

"It is surprising that the EU Commission has chosen to take this unilateral action without any meaningful official consultation," Sharma's letter said.

It said that India has mandated strong (SPS) sanitary and phyto-sanitary (related with plants and animals) standards and those norms are enforced by state-run regulatory body, which ensures appropriate compliance.

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) allows only those exporting agencies to undertake exports which are fully compliant with international standards of the importing country.

"APEDA has recently introduced regulations especially for EU bound consignments which mandate specific compliance on SPS standards as required by the host country. Therefore, the unprecedented action by EU is even more surprising at this juncture," it said.

The letter said that the EU's decision is "unfair" and it would potentially jeopardize India-EU agri trade.

It also said that such measures coming at a time which is a peak season for such agricultural produce.

"I must mention that the ongoing negotiations for an India-EU broad-based trade and investment agreement are based on the premise of a strong trust and understanding for a more liberal trade regime on both sides.

"I am sure that you will take congnisance of the seriousness of our domestic concern and invoke necessary correctives," Sharma's letter added.

On Monday, the EU banned the import of Alphonso mangoes, the king of fruits, and four vegetables from India for the period from May 1 to December 2015 after authorities found consignments infested with fruit flies.
"The EU informed India in mid-March about the issue and immediately after that we have put in place a strong mechanism for examination and certification of the commodity. We have already addressed their concerns," said Ajay Sahai, Director General of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations.

"So we have asked the EU to lift the ban," he added.     

The ban was imposed on Alphonso mangoes, eggplants, the taro plant, bitter gourd and snake gourd to tackle "significant shortcomings in the phytosanitary certification system of such products exported to the EU."

Imports have been restricted as 207 consignments of mangoes and some vegetables shipped from India in 2013 were found to be contaminated by pests.

The UK imports almost 160 lakh mangoes from India and the market for this fruit is worth almost 6 million pounds a year.

India, the world's largest mango exporter, sells about 65,000-70,000 tons of all varieties of the fruit overseas out of its total production of 15-16 lakh tons.


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