Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has voiced strong criticism of the Indian government’s recent decision to reduce customs duties on apples imported from the United States. She contends that this move will facilitate the import of American apples at a time when Indian apple growers are already grappling with difficulties.
In a statement to ANI, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra emphasized the plight of farmers in her state, asserting that they are suffering due to decisions made by industrialists concerning procurement. She argued that the central government’s tariff reduction on American apples will adversely affect these farmers.
“This will make the import of American apples easy, and they will be sold easily. Prices of apple procurement in Shimla have been brought down by big industrialists. When the apple growers are suffering here, who should be helped? They, or the farmers in the US?” she questioned.
The Congress leader advocated for providing assistance to local farmers and ensuring they receive fair prices for their produce.
In June, India and the United States reached an agreement to resolve six ongoing disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO). As part of this agreement, India committed to reducing tariffs on specific American products, including chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, apples, boric acid, and diagnostic reagents.
Tariffs on American Apples: An Explanation
In 2019, an additional 20 percent duty was imposed on US apples in response to the United States’ decision to increase tariffs on certain steel and aluminum products. It’s important to note that there has been no reduction in the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) duty on apples, which still applies to all imported apples, including those from the US, at a rate of 50 percent.
Prominent political figures in Jammu and Kashmir, such as former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have also criticized the Centre’s move to lower tariffs on US apples.
However, a senior government official has stated that the decision to remove the 20 percent retaliatory customs duty on American apples will have a minimal impact on Indian farmers. The government asserts that it has sufficient policy flexibility to support farmers if any adverse effects arise from this decision.
Additional Secretary in the Department of Commerce, Peeyush Kumar, emphasized that India is not providing any “extra” concessions by eliminating this duty. He stressed that it is not opening a floodgate for American apples. Instead, India sees this move as a mutually beneficial arrangement since it restores market access for Indian steel and aluminum products in the US market, which had been hampered by high US tariffs imposed in 2018.
The decision to eliminate these additional duties was part of an agreement reached during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United States. Additionally, India and the US have resolved six trade disputes at the WTO as part of this agreement. India will be removing these duties on eight US products, including chickpeas, lentils, and apples, which were imposed in response to the US’s tariffs on certain steel and aluminum products for national security reasons.