The government on Tuesday clarified that the most favoured nation (MFN) duty of Rs 100 per kg continues to be applicable on US almonds as only the additional MFN rate of Rs 20 per kg has been removed.
The Commerce Ministry said that the MFN duty of 50 per cent and 100 per cent continues to be applicable on US apples and walnuts, as only additional 20 per cent duty has been removed.
The clarification from the Centre came amid uproar over the removal of customs duty on the import of apples, walnut, and almonds from the US.
Removal of additional retaliatory duties and additional rate for import of US apples, walnuts and almonds will not result in any negative impact on domestic producers, official sources said, adding that apples from the US will compete on level playing field with other countries.
A statement issued by the government said that with the decision to resolve six outstanding World Trade Organisation (WTO) disputes between the US and India through Mutually Agreed Solutions in June, India has withdrawn additional duties on eight US origin products, including apples, walnuts and almonds vide notification number 53/2023 (Custom).
"Additional duties of 20 per cent each on apples and walnuts and Rs 20 per kg on almonds were imposed on the US' products in 2019 over and above the MFN duty as a retaliation to the US's state protectionist measure of increasing tariffs on certain steel and aluminium products," the statement said.
These additional duties imposed by India on US-origin products have been withdrawn as the US agreed to provide market access to steel and aluminium products under the exclusion process.
There is no reduction on the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) duty on apples, walnuts and almonds, which still applies to all imported products, including US-origin products, at 50 per cent, 100 per cent, and Rs 100 per kg, respectively.
Further, the DGFT through its notification dated May 8, made an amendment in import policy for Apples under ITC (HS) 08081000 by applying MIP (minimum import price) of Rs 50 per kg for imports from all countries except Bhutan. Therefore, this MIP will also apply to apples from the US and other countries (excluding Bhutan).
This measure would protect against the dumping of low-quality apples and from any predatory pricing in the Indian market.
"This measure will not result in any negative impact on domestic apple, walnut and almond producers. Rather, it will result in competition in the premium market segment of apples, walnuts, and almonds, thereby ensuring better quality at competitive prices for our Indian consumers. Thus, the US apples, walnuts and almonds would compete on the same level playing field as all other countries," an official source said.
The market share of US apples had fallen as other countries benefitted from the imposition of additional retaliatory duties on the US apple and walnut imports.