India can soon start export of incense sticks to Europe (Eds: Minor edits)

NEW DELHI, Jan 17: Indian incense stick exporters can soon start shipping the product to European markets, including Italy, after putting appropriate labelling on the goods.
The exports of these sticks to Europe were earlier facing issues after Italian customs authorities seized consignments, alleging that the product contains harmful chemicals beyond a permissible limit.
The issue was immediately taken up by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu with Italian authorities for its resolution as it is a labour-intensive cottage industry.
“Thanks to a concerted effort of our embassy and competent authorities in Rome, the complex issue concerning the exports of incense sticks from India to Italy is finally resolved,” Italian Ambassador to India Lorenzo Angeloni has said in his letter to Prabhu.
As Italy is a member of the European Union, restrictions on imports of these sticks from India apply to all the member countries.
Alerts concerning Indian incense sticks have been removed by the European Union’s Rapid Alert System (RAPEX) database, the Ambassador said.
RAPEX is a rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products that permits the member countries to exchange information on those goods posing a risk to health and safety of consumers and measures taken to do away with that risk.
Following this removal, “it will be possible for Indian agarbatti (incense stick) manufacturers to export incense sticks to the EU (including Italy) upon condition that appropriate labelling is applied,” he said.
“Label should discourage the frequent use of the product while recommending proper ventilation of the room in which combustion takes place,” he added.
The Italian ministry of economic development will finalise in the coming days the necessary administrative procedures, in particular informing the border and finance police about the measures in order to avoid new seizures of the consignments, the letter said.
According to the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), India annually exports these sticks worth about Rs 450 crore to Europe.
EPCH Executive Director Rakesh Kumar said this is a welcome move that the issues have been resolved as our products are safe for use.
Largest export destinations for the product include the US, EU, the UK, Latin America and Japan.
However, the country is facing tough competition from nations such as China and Vietnam because they use modern machinery, Kumar said.
During April-November 2018, the exports of these sticks stood at USD 66.11 million. (PTI)


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