Finance Ministry has lowered import duty on certain items from the US. These include blueberries and cranberries where duties have been cut to 5-10 per cent from 30 per cent. Similarly, import duty pertaining to meat and edible offal of turkey, frozen meat is reduced to 5 per cent from 30 per cent.

New tariff rates have been made effective from Tuesday, February 20, a notification issued by the Ministry said. This move is a follow-up of an announcement made in September last year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with the US President Joe Biden.

Both countries agreed to resolve their last outstanding dispute at the World Trade Organisation on import restrictions on poultry products from Washington with New Delhi throwing in some additional sweeteners in the form of duty cuts on frozen turkey, frozen duck and a variety of cranberries and blueberries.

A statement issued by the US Trade Representative office, in September last, said that as part of the agreement, India had agreed to reduce tariffs on certain US products including frozen turkey, frozen duck, fresh blueberries and cranberries, frozen blueberries and cranberries, dried blueberries and cranberries, and processed blueberries and cranberries. “These tariff cuts will expand economic opportunities for US agricultural producers in a critical market and help bring more US products to customers in India,” it had said.

Poultry case

The US filed a poultry case against India in the WTO way back in 2012 for the removal of an import ban imposed by the country on US poultry on account of bird flu. India lost the case at the WTO at the panel level in 2014 and also subsequently at the appellate level. While India then lifted the ban, the US was not satisfied with the mechanism involved for poultry shipments and also the steep import duties and hence did not withdraw the case at the WTO.

Commenting on the latest development, Khushbu Trivedi, Associate Director- with Nangia Andersen India said, ”Reduction of the duty on these niche items rarely produced in India would help the USA in penetrating 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,” she said.

The notification has also reduced the import duty to ‘NIL’ on ‘Cotton, not carded or combed, with staple length exceeding 32mm.’ This has been done in response to the concerns raised by the cotton industry, “This decision reflects a proactive approach by the government to address industry feedback and adapt import regulations accordingly, potentially benefiting stakeholders involved in the cotton sector,” Trivedi said.