Cardamom export to India is on hold since July 1 this year, just as the Indian Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime commenced.

The customs office across the border in Jaigoan has asked exporters to get certification for every single consignment from Kolkata. The certification from Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory (BAFRA) is not accepted, exporters say.

Exporters in Phuentsholing hinted this could be due to the GST. But confusion remains on whether this development is due to the GST.

A cardamom exporter in Phuentsholing, asking anonymity said that they have stopped buying cardamom from farmers.

“If we buy we will get affected,” he said, adding that farmers are the ultimate losers.

The exporter said that their firm is exporting some cardamom to Bangladesh but there is no export to India. There are few major cardamom exporters in Phuentsholing such as RSA private limited, Yarab, Zimdra, and Bhutan Export Business Line. But most export to Bangladesh.

However, there are several brokers and traders in Phuentsholing that deal cardamom. They supply to third parties in Silliguri, India.

Proprietor of Bhutan Export Business Line, Shivalal Subedi said, that this certification condition was not there before.

“I think this is because of GST confusion,” he said. “We are just focusing on export to Bangladesh.”

According to Shivalal Subedi Bhutanese exporters export approximately 40 metric tonnes (MT) of cardamom to Bangladesh in a month, depending on market demand and availability.

“Export in India could be double compared to that of Bangladesh,” he said.

Considering export to India from Norgaygang and Tashichholing in Samtse, Gelephu, and Phuentsholing, exporters say India market is more active. Although the export are made in small quantities, it is the number of export transactions from these places that create the market, exporter Shivalal Subedi told Kuensel.

Prior to the commencement of GST, there was no such problem in exporting cardamom to India.

Trade regional director in Phuentsholing, Pem Bidha said that their office is not aware of it. “BAFRA should know about it,” she said.

Phuentsholing BAFRA in-charge Phuntsho Wangdi said they also have not received anything about this matter.

“But if they demand we have to prepare,” he said.

Phuntsho Wangdi said it would be Phyto Sanitary certificate that is required. Whenever fruits or crops are exported, this certificate is prepared, in order to provide details of quality, disease free nature, and contamination.

Such certificates are required even during imports made by Bhutan, he said.

Exporters have also met the Bhutan Exporters Association and Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited. The trade office has been informed about this yesterday.

Meanwhile, small quantity of this year’s harvest of cardamom has started entering the market.

Caramom has five percent GST. Exporters say that GST will boost market for Bhutanese cardamom as illegal buying and selling will be stopped.

Rajesh Rai |Phuentsholing