Iran has expressed keenness to increase imports of tea and medicines from India as the Islamic country is looking at ways to boost bilateral trade ties between the two nations, a top Commerce Ministry official has said.
During the recent visit of Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher to Tehran, both the sides deliberated on ways to enhance trade in the two commodities.
At present, Iran imports tea and pharmaceuticals from India but the value is low.
Tea exports to Iran are low because the Islamic nation follows 'Codex' international norms which are not observed by Indian manufacturers.
As regards medicines, Iran mainly imports from the US and European countries.
Now, Iranian traders have recognised the potential of Indian generic drugs and have shown interest in increasing imports from India.
"Iran has now acknowledged that India is the best generic drug producers. We have invited their FDA (food and drug administration) regulators to visit India," Kher told PTI.
He said that India has also invited tea experts from Iran and have asked them to visit domestic tea gardens and factories to study the quality and standards followed here.
Meanwhile, a Greenpeace India report on Indian tea has also impacted the country's exports.
Greenpeace India has published a research paper titled 'Trouble Brewing on Indian Tea' where it has claimed that the beverage has hazardous pesticides.
Indian officials have asked Iran not to trust that report.
An industry expert said that huge potential exists in Iran for Indian tea and pharma sector.
"Several Iranain delegations have recognised the potential of Indian generic medicines. Our exports are only USD 15-16 million per year. They have huge potential. We can invite them and show our regulatory processes and standards," Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) Director General & CEO Ajay Sahai said.
Sahai said Sri Lanka and Kenya are the main exporters of tea to Iran but Indian companies too can enhance standards and quality norms to increase their exports.
Increase in exports would help India to bridge the widening trade deficit with Iran. In 2013-14, India's exports stood at USD 4.97 billion while imports are USD 10.3 billion.
Besides, the government is pitching to increase exports to Iran as it wants to boost the country's outbound shipments which are hovering at around USD 300 billion for last four years.