Trump’s visit: No deal on agri-products on cards, only photo-ops; say govt sources
Much hyped US President Donald Trump’s visit to India is going to be a futile exercise as far as the trade deals on agri-products are concerned
The much hyped US President Donald Trump’s visit to India is going to be a futile exercise as far as the trade deals on agri-products are concerned, said government sources.
“Modi government is not going to buckle under the pressure extorted by the US government. We will say Namaste to Trump Ji and bid adieu to him after a grand ceremony,” said the source who was present in a meeting that was conveyed between an RSS-linked pressure group and the government to discuss the apprehensions raised by Indian dairy industry.
On condition of anonymity, the source added that the government is of view that “protectionism is the need of the hour as SMEs are already under extreme pressure “and India’s dairy brands such as Amul and Mother dairy will suffer the most if the deal is finalized.
BJP’s parent organisation, RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch has also been lobbying against any trade deal on agri-products with the US. Government sources have indicated that RSS has through the SJM has also voiced strong concerns against the deal.
Head of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), Ashwani Mahajan told NH that his organisation is against the deal as it is based on “unequal” terms.
“Every nation has the right to protect its business interest. No matter how liberaliSation has benefitted the global business including India’s growth but balance in international trade is a must. If we do not protect our dairy industry who else will do,” asked Mahajan, adding a cultural angle to the deal, “Cows in the US are fed with meat. Indians cannot use such dairy products that are made of the meat-milk”.
Reasons for the government’s “no to the deal with the US,” according to analysts is that the dairy sector not only provides employment to the rural workforce but is also a significant contributor to the national economy. “Political the fallout of the deal cannot be ignored,” said an Ahmedabad based analyst.
Echoing Mahajan’s views, government sources told NH that India has been asking for the certification from the concerned US agency stating that “the source animal should not have been fed animal-derived blood meal. However, no assurance has been given by the US authorities so far.”
This, according to sources at the Ministry of Commerce, is non-negotiable, as it carries sensitive connotations for the religious sentiments of a majority of the Indian population.
It is worth mentioning here that according to a report released by the Agriculture Skill Council of India (ASCI), the dairy sector plays a pivotal role in providing alternative employment opportunities throughout the year while crop production generates employment for the rural workforce for an average of only 90-120 days in a year.
Analysts believe that opening up the dairy market to the US will place India at an economic disadvantage and hurt small farmers because an average final bound duty on dairy products in the US is around 19 per cent, as against close to 64 per cent in India.
“Present tariff profile is good for the Indian dairy business which in case the deal with the US may reverse. That is why, in all possibility, it is being said that Trump’s visit to India is going to be a photo-op,” said a trade policy analyst.