Quintis, the world’s leading supplier of natural, ethical and sustainable Indian and Australian sandalwood, has welcomed the signing of an interim Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (‘the agreement’) between Australia and India.
The agreement establishes incremental reductions in tariffs on Indian sandalwood chips and powder imports, providing a promising start to make Indian sandalwood that has been sustainably grown in Australia, more easily available to Indian customers.
However, more work is required in the final free trade agreement to ensure consumers and industry participants in both countries are able to benefit from the potential trade between the two countries.
Under the agreement, tariffs on sandalwood chips and powder will be reduced from 15 per cent to zero per cent over six years – the rate that applies to imports from ASEAN nations.
However, the tariff reductions only apply to sandalwood chips and powder, and not on sandalwood oil. A ban also remains on log imports to India from Australia.
“The interim agreement is a good start, but there is more work to do. It is crucial that tariff reductions and market access for sandalwood wood and oil are included in the broader Australia-India Free Trade Agreement, which is still being negotiated,” said Quintis Sandalwood CEO Richard Henfrey.
“The reduction of some barriers in the sandalwood trade between Australia and India will, over time, level the difference between Australia and ASEAN countries. Importantly, it will also bring increased trade and employment opportunities in both countries.”
Sandalwood products have a rich historical and cultural significance to Indian consumers and Quintis has developed an extensive business footprint in India. It has several collaborations in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic research and development sector, and supplies to Indian customers the only food grade sandalwood oil registered by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.
“Increased importation of ecologically sustainable, plantation-grown sandalwood wood and oil by India will reduce the pressure on India’s wild grown sandalwood population while protecting the value-adding industries that utilise harvested product,” Mr Henfrey said.
“With Quintis’ expected exponential increase in harvest volumes over the next few years, reducing and eliminating trade barriers between India and Australia could have a significant, beneficial impact in both countries, while supporting employment opportunities in Australia's remote north.”
“This interim agreement is a great step forward, and we look forward to the inclusion of sandalwood oil in in the broader agreement to unlock the full benefits of free trade with India.”
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