Congress opposes lowering of import duty on American apples
Congress alleged that PM Modi was giving a "gift" to the United States by reducing the import duty while doing injustice to farmers of the country engaged in apple cultivation
The Congress on Tuesday opposed the lowering of import duty on American apples, claiming it would prove detrimental to apple growers of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
The opposition party alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was giving a "gift" to the United States by reducing the import duty while doing injustice to farmers of the country engaged in apple cultivation.
"What happened to the slogan of 'vocal for local'? Why is the prime minister trying to please the Americans by offering concessions?" Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said at a press conference at the AICC headquarters.
She demanded an immediate withdrawal of the reported order to reduce import duty on American apples, saying it would destroy the economy of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
According to reports, days before US President Joe Biden’s bilateral with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi ahead of the G20 Summit, the Centre announced the removal of additional duties on about half a dozen US products, including apples, walnuts, almonds and lentils.
These duties were imposed in 2019 in a retaliatory move after America hiked tariffs on certain steel and aluminium products from India, the reports said.
"Once I make a commitment, then I don't even listen to myself, this is what Modi ji practises. Modi ji has made such a commitment to Adani and America," she told reporters.
"When Modi ji was not the prime minister, he used to say - Himachal is his second home and we will impose 100 per cent import duty on apples.
"But, now after he became prime minister, there are reports that Modi ji has given a commitment to America that on American apples it will impose an import duty of only 15 per cent, which was once 70 per cent," she claimed.
The Congress leader said this is the gift PM Modi gave to America.
In the US, big corporations are sowing apples but here it is produced only in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, she said.
She said Himachal Pradesh is facing an unprecedented calamity and a total loss of Rs 10,000 crore is estimated. "Instead of giving solace and help to the state, Modi ji is doing injustice to the farmers of Himachal," she said, claiming that this will spell doom for the economy of these states.
She said 14 per cent of the state's GDP comes from apple sales and now it will be seriously hit.
Similarly, she said, in Jammu and Kashmir, where the economy had started moving ahead for the first time after 2019 when there was a lockdown-like situation, the reduction in import duty on apples as well as walnuts and almonds will come as a great blow.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti had also on Monday appealed to the Centre to reconsider its decision to remove the additional duty on apples, walnuts and almonds imported from the US.
A senior government official had earlier said the decision to remove 20 per cent retaliatory customs duty on imported American apples will have a "zero" impact on Indian farmers as the government has sufficient policy space to support growers.
Additional Secretary in the Department of Commerce Peeyush Kumar had said that India is not giving anything "extra" by removing this duty and it was not that "we have opened a floodgate" for American apples.
Published: 12 Sep 2023, 6:02 PM