Leather exports to India grind to a halt

Jun 24, 2016- Export of Nepali processed leather has come to a complete halt for the last three months after India’s Raxaul customs office banned the product.

According to exporters, the Indian authority has cited issues of animal quarantine. “On April 1, the Indian authority refused the entry of the Nepali product seeking necessary documents,” said a trader, adding the export has come to a complete halt since then.

With the disruption, seven leather producers based along the Parsa-Bara Industrial Corridor have been affected. These factories had been exporting 30-40 truckloads of leather every month to India.

Junaid Iftkhar, general secretary of Leather Industries Association, said they even wrote to authorities concerned of Nepal and India, but to no avail. He said the factories have stopped purchasing raw animal skin from the local market after the ban.

The Indian government has waived customs charges on the import of Nepali leather. The bilateral trade treaty also talks about free flow of goods, based on the certificate of origin, produced in either of the countries.

Birgunj Customs provides the export license, while Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry issues the certificate of origin to Nepali exporters.

Following the ban, a Nepali delegation even visited Kolkata last month to resolve the issue. A member of team said the Indian authority in Kolkata turned down their request stating trading through the land route was not under their jurisdiction.

As per the exporters, the Indian authority has been refusing to approve the quarantine test done by Nepali veterinarians. The order letter issued by the Indian Commerce Ministry, on the other hand, talks about accepting the quarantine test report of the reporting country in which the certificate of origin is issued.

The traders said the exporting country is liable to issue animal quarantine certificate to export leather as per the global practice.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry expressed ignorance about the issue.

Rabi Shankar Sainju of the ministry said they have not received any official letter from the Indian government over the issue.

“The problem could have emerged due to ignorance of Indian customs officials,” said Sainju, adding the ministry would hold tal
ks with the Indian Embassy in Nepal to resolve the problem soon

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