Insight – Export opportunities increase as India reduces tariff on lentils

On 27 July 2021, India reduced the import tariff on lentils for all countries.

The tariff for lentils (HS0713.40.00) has dropped from 33% to 11%. Lentils from the United States, however, will be subject to a 33% tariff, down from 55%.

The tariff reduction will make Australian lentils more competitive in the India market.

The lower tariff aims to reduce the retail price of Masoor Dal (lentils). The Indian Government holds limited lentils buffer stock, unlike chickpeas and pigeon peas. Its ability to lower retail prices by releasing stock into the market is limited.

Implications for exporters

Australian exporters should assess the Indian market’s commercial viability following the tariff reductions.

Exporters should also track the availability and retail prices of tur/pigeon pea. Lentils can be used as a substitute if tur prices are too high.

Exporters should track lentils planting, especially in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, from October onwards. The plantings will indicate the likely volume of domestic production in early 2022.

Duration of tariff reduction

The Indian Government has not confirmed how long the tariff reduction will apply. It may tighten its import policy in early 2022. This will protect local farmers when they market their crop from March 2022 onwards.

India is planning to remove quantitative restrictions on imports of mung beans, pigeon peas/tur and urad on 31 October 2021.

Exporters should continue monitoring announcements from the Indian Government about further changes to tariff rates. India often changes tariffs with little warning.

Recent history of lentil tariffs in India

India is one of the world’s largest consumers of lentils, supplied by domestic production and imports. In December 2017, India introduced a 30% tariff on lentils and chickpeas. This was done to protect domestic prices and the interests of Indian farmers.

Before the tariff’s introduction, India was the world’s largest lentil market. It imported over $900 million of lentils in 2017 (see Figure 1). Imports fell sharply in 2018 but have risen steadily in later years.

Figure 1: Lentil imports by country

In June 2020, India reduced the tariff on lentils from 30% to 10% for 3 months. The reduction followed a rise in domestic prices due to decreased domestic production and supplies. The July 2021 tariff reduction has the same goal.

The tariff reduction in June 2020 saw a large increase in the value of Australian lentil exports to India. Exports peaked well above the previous three-year average, reaching $29 million in July 2020. Exporters are well placed to meet demand after this latest tariff reduction, thanks to good seasonal conditions.

Resources

The Manual of Importing Country Requirements has details of India’s import requirements for lentils.

Austrade has more information about the Indian market.

The Indian Government may publicise future tariff announcements through the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs’ Twitter account.

The Australian Government’s network of Agriculture Counsellors provided information for this article. More information about the Agriculture Counsellor network, including contact details, are available on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

Market overview

  • In 2020, India was the world’s largest importer of lentils (UNComtrade 2021).
  • Between 2016 and 2020, Australia had a 17% share of the Indian pulse market. Canada had 75% of the market (UN Comtrade 2021).
  • India is Australia’s second most valuable lentil market. In 2020, India accounted for 23% of the value of Australian lentil exports. Bangladesh accounted for 40% (ABS 2021).
  • Turkey is an emerging supplier of lentils to India. Russia and Kazakhstan are also aiming to gain entry into the Indian market.