September 12, 2023 11:07 pm | Updated September 13, 2023 12:33 am IST – New Delhi
As India and the United States decided to end disputes over the import of poultry products and to reduce import tariffs on apples, almonds, chickpeas and lentils, farmers and traders associations have raised an alarm. They fear that the new agreements, signed when U.S. delegations headed by President Joe Biden were here for the G-20 meetings, will harm the interests of farmers and small and medium industries in the poultry sector.
There are concerns that the deal would allow for chicken legs and liver (not popular in the U.S.) to be dumped in our country, and that meat and bone meal poultry feed made of beef and pork would be used for the poultry (a widespread practice in the U.S.).
Talking to The Hindu, Poultry Federation of India’s president Ranpal Dhanda said his organisation will move the Supreme Court against the unilateral decision of the Union Government. “This agreement is against the interest of poultry farmers in the country. Tonnes of chicken legs will now be imported, rather dumped, into our country. We are also keen to know if the U.S. authorities will certify that pork or beef are not used in the poultry feed. Beef and pork consumption is a sensitive issue in the country,” he said.
Mr. Dhanda said the Centre is allowing big American companies to make profits at the cost of small and medium poultry outlets in the country. “They should protect the farmers here, not the American companies,” he added.
United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai had announced that both countries have agreed to resolve their last outstanding dispute at the World Trade Organisation and India has agreed to reduce tariffs on certain U.S. products, including frozen turkey, frozen duck, blueberries and cranberries (fresh or frozen or dried or processed). “These tariff cuts will expand economic opportunities for U.S. agricultural producers in a critical market and help bring more U.S. products to customers in India,” she had said.
K.V. Biju, national coordinator of Rashtriya Kisan Mahasnagh, said India had also agreed to reduce tariffs on chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, and apples. “The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non Political) had sent a letter to Prime Minister and Commerce Minister requesting them to stop decreasing import duty. We had urged them to increase import duty. But we expected the Narendra Modi-led government will surrender farmers interest at the G-20 summit,” he said.
Mr. Biju added that taking away the restrictions on the import of apples, almonds and pulses will harm the interests of farmers in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. “By going back from earlier stand adopted at the WTO, the Centre is cheating other countries who fought with India on U.S. subsidies,” he said.
Partners in the Opposition INDIA bloc too had questioned the import duty reduction. They had also threatened protests against the decision.