US nudges India to lower agriculture tariffs

New Delhi: The US has nudged India to keep agricultural tariffs low even as it has sought greater access in the markets here for American almonds, cranberries, olives, pulses and lentils among others.

“Each side needs to pursue free trade (in agriculture) as much as possible,” US Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Ted McKinney told reporters here on Friday.

McKinney was on a week-long agriculture trade mission to India. He was accompanied by a high-powered business delegation of nearly 50 companies, trade associations and state government leaders.

During his visit, McKinney met representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Commerce and Industry.

Before coming here, McKinney had said that agricultural tariffs are high in India and he will be taking it up during his discussions here with his Indian counterparts.

He also said that US is keen on exporting pork meat to India and talks on this issue are going on. “There is a great deal of interest in providing pork as long as it’s allowed. Talks are going on. The progress report is good,” he said.

However, the US and India are already fighting it out at the WTO on American poultry imports.

McKinney said the issue is now coming to a conclusion and both sides are ready bury the hatchet.

“It (the dispute) is there. It seems to be coming to conclusion and we are anxious to get that behind us. Both sides wanted to move on because the opportunity for cooperation and the benefits from it far exceeds any points of disagreement,” he said.

The US had dragged India to the WTO for not allowing American poultry imports into India citing fears of bird flu. India lost the case last year but American poultry imports have still not resumed.

On the issue of GM crops, he said new technologies always prove to be beneficial in the long run.

Source: Hindu Business Line

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