New Delhi, September 12
Faced with a backlash from the Congress, National Conference and the PDP over reduced import duty on American apple, which they said would be detrimental to the interests of apple growers of Himachal Pradesh and J&K, the government on Tuesday clarified that the decision would not impact local players.
The government had removed only the additional duty and the basic import duty of 50% will continue, Peeyush Kumar, additional secretary, Commerce Ministry, said. The official also sought to assure the domestic apple growers by saying the government has sufficient policy space to support growers if there was any adverse implication of the move.
“What happened to the slogan of ‘vocal for local’? Why is the PM trying to please the Americans by offering concessions?’’ asked Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate at a press conference here on Tuesday.
“When Modi was not the Prime Minister, he used to say Himachal is his second home and we will impose 100% import duty on apples. But, now there are reports that Modi has given a commitment to America that on American apples it will impose an import duty of only 15%, which was once 70%,” she claimed.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti had also on Monday appealed to the Centre to reconsider its decision to remove the additional duty on apples, walnuts and almonds imported from the US.
But the Commerce Ministry official claimed “zero” impact on Indian farmers and said India was not giving anything “extra”. Rather, it will result in competition in the premium market segment of apples, walnuts and almonds, where American apple imports have been replaced by apples from Chile etc. With the entry of American apples and walnuts, there was greater competition in the premium segment, thus ensuring better quality at competitive prices for Indian consumers, he reasoned. Kumar also said India will gain greater access for its steel products to the US.
On September 8, hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden met for bilateral talks here, Washington had announced the resolution of a dispute between the two countries over the import from the US of poultry, including chicken and eggs. In June, on the sidelines of the bilateral between Biden and PM Modi in Washington, the US and India had agreed to terminate six outstanding disputes at the WTO.
India threw in import reduction offers for chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, apples, boric acid, frozen turkey and duck, and fresh, frozen, dried and processed blueberries and cranberries.
Levy was cut recently
The Centre had recently removed additional duties on about half a dozen US products, including chickpeas, lentils and apple, which were imposed in 2019 in response to America’s decision to increase tariffs on certain steel and aluminium products
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