India uk FTA ghee and blue veined cheese dairynews7x7

India is trying to pry open the UK market for ghee in exchange for bringing the latter’s blue cheese to the Indian market, under the proposed free trade pact being negotiated by the two countries, an official aware of the matter said.

Trade negotiators have pressed the UK to waive its sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules to let in ghee and other dairy products, which remain shut from the British market.

Traceability of ghee, other dairy products a stumbling block for trade negotiators

This is because these food safety rules insist on traceability of goods—a hard task in India where large dairy co-operatives source their milk from millions of individual cattle farmers and small dairy farms.

“The demand is to get SPS waiver for Indian ghee, which will provide for its entry into the

UK market. This is being sought since India is considering allowing cheese under the free trade agreement (FTA), which will provide a big market to their blue cheese,” the official cited above said on condition of anonymity.

Emails sent to a commerce ministry spokesperson and commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal on Friday were unanswered till press time.

Several European countries produce and export blue cheese, with added edible moulds for varying tastes, bearing noticeable blue or green spots or veins.

Italy is the world’s largest exporter of blue cheese while Germany is the largest importer. Data from agencies that track the cheese market shows that global exports of blue cheese grew 12.8% between 2020 and 2021.

India levies a 150% import duty on blue cheese; plus, retailers add margins of up to 30% on imported cheese, keeping it out of reach of most regular buyers. While the UK sees a big market for its cheese here, India is equally keen to open up the British market for its ghee.

UK is not doing too much of exports of Blue veined cheese. Rather they have negative trade balance for this product. Though United Kingdom’s exports represent 2.9% of world exports for this product, its ranking in world exports is 5.

The average distance of importing countries is 4243 km and the export concentration is 0.17. They are primarily exporting to developed world or rich markets of GCC. In 2022 their total exports remain around 20 Mill USD or around 2150 MT. The exports saw negative growth rate of 5 % from 2018-22 in value terms. on the contrary India has a much bigger opportunity in ghee. While UK imported around 7000 MT of Ghee products valued at 42 Mill USD . On the contrary Indian ghee exports in 2022 without UK was around 18000 MT at 119 Mill USD. I do not understand what would be benefit of including these products in the FTA.

The move would give a boost to exports of Indian dairy companies, since India-made ghee is anyway being exported to various other markets like the US and Australia where there is a large Indian diaspora, as there is in the UK.

According to R.S. Sodhi, president, Indian Dairy Association, the branded ghee market in India is estimated at ₹50,000 crore, and exports (globally) would be just ₹1,500 crore.

That is puny compared to the overall ghee market in India, which was estimated to be ₹3.2 lakh crore in size in 2023, according to data from market research firm IMARC, a large part of which is in the unorganized space. The market is expected to grow to ₹6.9 lakh crore by 2032, at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.72% from 2024.

Analysts, however, say that an SPS waiver may be difficult, but noted that apart from its use as food, ghee is also used for religious purposes.

While SPS approval may be difficult to come by, there is a precedent of a Russian agreement that proposed waiving SPS on a case-by-case basis, Mukherjee said.

Source : Hindustan Times Feb 13th and some editing by Dairy news7x7 team

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