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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

India cuts duty rates on US products to resolve outstanding World Trade Organisation issues

The new duty rates, effective from Tuesday, have been notified by the finance ministry. India has agreed to bring down the import duty to 5-10 per cent on some fresh and processed food items as part of a larger dispute settlement between New Delhi and Washington at the WTO

R. Suryamurthy New Delhi Published 21.02.24, 11:32 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

India has cut duties on frozen turkey, frozen duck, fresh blueberries and cranberries, frozen blueberries and cranberries to about 5 to 10 per cent from the existing 30 to 45 per cent, as agreed with the US to resolve outstanding World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues.

The new duty rates, effective from Tuesday, have been notified by the finance ministry. India has agreed to bring down the import duty to 5-10 per cent on some fresh and processed food items as part of a larger dispute settlement between New Delhi and Washington at the WTO.

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Officials said while the duty reduction is a result of the negotiations between India and the US, the tariff cut will apply to all WTO member nations, according to the WTO’s MFN principle.

“This (tariff cut) is unlikely to hurt the domestic market. It is an exclusive market that caters to a limited segment that wants to buy international products. It will be the consumers’ choice,” they said.

India is not a major producer of blueberries and depends on the import of the fruit to meet its local needs. The US is the largest producer of blueberries in the world and has been trying to tap the Indian market.

Khushbu Trivedi, associate director, indirect tax, Nangia Andersen India, said: “Reduction of the duty on these niche items rarely produced in India would help the US enter the Indian market, and also in bringing the prices of these products down in India. This move shall also benefit other nations forming part of WTO.”

“Further, in response to the concerns raised by the cotton industry, the government has reduced the import duty to ‘nil’ on ‘cotton, not carded or combed, with staple length exceeding 32mm’,” Trivedi added.

E-commerce at WTO

India is not in favour of continuation of the moratorium on customs duties on e-commerce trade at the WTO’s meeting in Abu Dhabi later this month as it is impacting the developing countries, a senior commerce ministry official said.

The official said there is a work programme on e-commerce trade and the members of the WTO should continue to discuss the issue under that.

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