India lifts additional taxes on US apples, walnuts and almonds

Kashmiri women remove the husk of walnuts before leaving them to dry in the sun during the harvest season. [FPK Photo]

New Delhi: India has lifted additional duties on approximately half a dozen American products, such as chickpeas, lentils and apples, walnuts in shells and almonds fresh or dried, as well as almond shelled, which were levied in the year 2019 in response to the United States’ decision to raise tariffs on certain steel and aluminum products.

The Indian Finance Ministry announced the removal of the duties on the products through a notification dated September 5. The products included chickpeas, lentils (Masur), apples, walnuts in shells and almonds fresh or dried, as well as almond shelled.

The decision was taken as United States President Joe Biden was scheduled to visit India for the G20 Summit. The event on September 9-10 was preceded by Biden’s bilateral meeting with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi.

During the Indian prime minister’s state visit to the United States in June, both countries agreed to call off six WTO (World Trade Organization) disputes and also eliminate the retaliatory tariffs on certain US products.

As part of the agreement, India will be doing away with additional duty on chickpeas (10 per cent), lentils (20 per cent), almonds fresh or dried (Rs 7 per kg), almonds shelled (Rs 20 per kg), walnuts (20 per cent), and apples fresh (20 per cent).

Pertinent to mention here that Kashmir’s apple, walnut, and almond growers are facing a significant challenge with the recent decision by the Indian government to lift duties on several American products, including these very commodities. While the move might benefit consumers through lower prices, it threatens the livelihoods of the hardworking farmers and businesses in the region.

Kashmir has long been celebrated for the superior quality of its produce, which has held a prominent place in the Indian market. With increased competition from imported American goods, the Kashmiri industry faces an uncertain future, and the local growers are bracing for the impact of this policy shift on their income and traditional way of life.

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