Duty on apples, walnuts scrapped as US agreed market access to Indian steel products: Commerce Ministry

New Delhi, (UNI) Commerce Ministry on Tuesday said that additional duty on certain US-origin products including apples and walnuts has been withdrawn as US agreed to provide market access to steel and aluminium products under the exclusion process.

The Ministry stated that the move is in line with the decision to resolve six outstanding World Trade Organisation (WTO) disputes between the US and India through mutually agreed solutions in June 2023.

India has withdrawn additional duties on eight US origin products, including apples, walnuts and almonds vide notification number 53/2023 (Custom).

Additional duties of 20% each on apples and walnuts and Rs 20 per kg on almonds were imposed on the US’s products in 2019 over and above the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) duty as a retaliation to the US’s state protectionist measure of increasing tariffs on certain steel and aluminium products.

“There is no reduction on the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) duty on apples, walnuts and almonds, which still applies to all imported products, including US-origin products, at 50%, 100% and Rs 100 per kg, respectively,” said the release from Commerce Ministry.

The release said that removal of additional retaliatory duties and additional rate for import of US apples, walnuts and almonds will not result in any negative impact on domestic producers.

As per the government data, market share of the US apples dwindled as other countries benefited from the imposition of additional retaliatory duties on the US apple and walnut imports.

“This is evident in the increase of apple imports from countries besides the US, from US$ 160 million in FY 2018-19 to US$ 290 million in FY 2022-23. Turkey, Italy, Chile, Iran, and New Zealand emerged as prominent apple exporters to India, effectively acquiring the market share once held by the US,” the official statement said.

Similarly, in the case of walnuts, the imports increased from US$ 35.11 million in FY 2018-19 to US$ 53.95 million in FY 2022-23, and Chile and UAE became the largest exporters to India.

“In the last three years, the import of almonds has been about 233 thousand MT, while domestic production is only 11 thousand MT, and India is highly dependent on imports. Therefore, the removal of additional duties will now ensure fair competition among the countries which are exporting these products to India,” Commerce Ministry said.

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