New Delhi (Agency): The Indian Congress party expressed strong disapproval of the government’s recent decision to reduce import duties on American apples. According to the party, this move would negatively impact apple farmers in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate voiced her concerns during a press conference at the AICC headquarters. “What happened to the slogan of ‘vocal for local’? Why is the prime minister trying to please the Americans by offering concessions?” Shrinate questioned. She called for an immediate reversal of the order, claiming it would devastate the economies of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
This policy change comes ahead of a scheduled meeting between US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. It’s part of a broader agreement where India removed additional duties on several US products like apples, walnuts, almonds, and lentils. These extra duties were initially imposed in 2019 as a countermeasure to America’s increased tariffs on Indian steel and aluminium products.
Shrinate accused Prime Minister Modi of changing his stance on import duties, pointing out that he once advocated for a 100% import duty on apples. “Now, after becoming Prime Minister, there are reports that Modi ji has agreed to impose an import duty of only 15%, which was once 70%,” she stated.
The Congress leader also mentioned that Himachal Pradesh is currently facing a crisis, with losses estimated at Rs 10,000 crore. She said that 14% of the state’s GDP comes from apple sales, which will be severely impacted by this decision. “Instead of giving solace and help to the state, Modi ji is doing injustice to the farmers of Himachal,” Shrinate argued.
Furthermore, in Jammu and Kashmir, which was already grappling with economic challenges, the cut in import duty on apples, as well as walnuts and almonds, is seen as a significant setback. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti have also called on the Centre to reconsider its decision.
However, Additional Secretary in the Department of Commerce, Peeyush Kumar, stated that the impact on Indian farmers would be “zero,” as the government has policy space to support local growers.