Cheaper blueberries, cranberries, turkeys headed to India

India has effected sharp cuts in the import duties on frozen turkeys, blueberries and cranberries, and scrapped the import duty on extra-long staple (ELS) cotton, as per a Finance Ministry decision notified late Monday.

The move, which will make it easier for the US and other major producers to meet Indian consumers’ demand for these items that are generally not produced in the country, stems from the bilateral trade talks between India and the US held five months ago on the sideline of the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi.

The two sides had agreed to resolve their outstanding dispute at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) concerning the importation of certain agricultural products. “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,” the Office of the US Trade Representative Katherine Tai had said at the time.

Frozen turkey meat as well as edible offal imports will now attract only 5% import levies compared with 30% earlier. The import duty on frozen and dried blueberries and cranberries has also been slashed to 10% from 30%. Preserved or prepared cranberries will attract a 5% import duty, while similarly packaged blueberries will face a 10% levy.

Cotton imports of a staple length exceeding 32 mm have been made duty-free, which is expected to aid Indian textile producers.

India’s textile industry welcomed import duty removal on ELS cotton saying it will benefit mills that use this variety.

“Last year, almost 26% of cotton imports were of ELS variety. Cotton stakeholders in India are working on developing ELS cotton in India. However, it takes time. And, why would the domestic industry import this variety if it was available locally? …Removal of import duty will improve competitiveness (of those who use this cotton variety) in the international market,” said a source who did not wish to be named.

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