Tariffs on many goods such as coffee, tea, palm oil and pepper, negotiated a decade ago by the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), will soon come into force. This group of nations, with combined economies estimated at $2.7 trillion, works with six unrelated trading partners, including India. The new free trade agreement aims to reduce import tariffs on agricultural products by 50% by 2019. India is negotiating a separate agreement with Sri Lanka. Indian tea producers fear that the future of the agreement will flood the Indian market with cheap tea from ASEAN countries, making Indian tea more competitive because of its relatively high production costs. However, the treaty would also open up foreign markets that protect their own tea industry. This could be beneficial for large plantations already active in foreign trade. Small farmers do not export significant amounts of tea. “The agreement must contain appropriate measures not only to control cheap imports from ASEAN countries, but also to prevent Chinese tea from entering Indian markets. Experts stressed the need to review the rules of origin provisions to prevent Chinese imports from reaching lower tariffs under the trade agreement,” says a report by the Assam Tribune.

The regime remained in force until 31 March 1955 and was not subsequently extended, but an agreement was reached between the governments of the participating countries on the sustainability of the International Tea Committee as a centre for collecting and publishing statistics and other information on tea. During this period, low-case support schemes were put in place for several agricultural raw materials through agreements or collusant agreements. Since primary products have low demand prices, the limitation of production increases the profits of producers and is in their collective interest. The first attempts to abseven with tea. the alliance was not successful, but when prices fell, the tea producer associations of the three major producing countries founded the International Tea Agreement in 1930.

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