IIOJK traders upset over Modi govt’s move to slash custom duty on US apples

ISLAMABAD:The Narendra Modi-led Indian government’s decision to relax customs duty on apples imported from the US has upset the fruit traders in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

According to reporter, the Modi government’s move to slash additional tariff duty of 20 percent on the US apples and walnuts has left Kashmir’s fruit growers dismayed and worried about their future in light of the drop in output, poor pricing, and other factors confronting them. The growers fear that the US fruit would be imported to India at lower rates, as a result local produce would lose market share.

The President of Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Dealers Union, Bashir Ahmad Bashir, said the move will have a negative impact on Kashmiri apples. He said that the Indian government must reconsider the decision, taking into account the losses the farmers will suffer.

The apple growers in IIOJK maintain that they have faced a lot of problems due to the 2019 shutdown and the Covid-19 lockdown, and now the further reduction of import duties from the US products will affect their business.

Manzoor Ahmad Mir, an apple grower from North Kashmir’s Sopore told the media that the American apple growers are provided huge subsidies by the government while the growers from occupied Kashmir don’t have such options. I think the Indian government wants to cripple the apple industry in Kashmir, he said.

Pertinently, the horticulture sector plays an important role in IIOJK and contributes significantly to its economy. In 2019, Kashmir produced about 1.9 million metric tons of apples. As per the official figures, horticulture is a source of livelihood for 33 lakh people. About seven lakh families are directly or indirectly involved and depend on this sector.

It is worth mentioning here that the US and India agreed in June this year to terminate six outstanding disputes at the World Trade Organization. The Modi regime also agreed to reduce tariffs on certain US products, including chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, apples, boric acid, and diagnostic reagents. The announcement was made by the Indian government a few days after the G-20 summit in New Delhi.