Dairy imports from US could be allowed after certification from veterinary officials
New Delhi is willing to allow dairy imports from the US if Washington can guarantee that these don’t violate religious taboos.
India, where dairy products are integral to Hindu worship, requires these be derived from animals that have not consumed feed containing internal organs, blood meal or tissues of ruminant origin.
“Nothing is a deal breaker but we have insisted on our religious sensitivities,” one official said.
$100-m Opportunity for US Cos in Dairy Alone
The dates of Goyal’s visit will be firmed up soon.
“We will accept the US’ certification that the cattle is not fed meat,” the official said. “A feed ban certificate should ensure that no blood meal was given to it.”
The American dairy industry has said that if India provides market access, exports would increase by up to $100 million (Rs 700 crore).
On information and communications technology (ICT) products, India has decided to fix a threshold price for imported smart phones, beyond which it can levy customs duty. Washington had demanded lower duty rates on mobile phones, smart watches and telecom network equipment. India had explained to the US earlier that concessions can’t be given as China would end up benefiting from any such relaxation.
The two sides have also managed to resolve their differences over market access for agricultural commodities and pricing of medical devices.
“In all these areas, we have worked intensively and bridged the gap,” said one of the officials cited above.
In agriculture, the US wants India to increase the import of certain American products such as cherries, alfalfa hay and pork, and remove licensing requirements on the import of boric acid. In return, India is hopeful of simplified procedures for the export of its mangoes, grapes and pomegranate arils.
The two sides got locked into a series of trade spats that began last year when the US imposed global additional tariffs of 25% and 10% on the import of steel and aluminium products, respectively. India responded by levying retaliatory tariffs on 28 products originating or exported from the US with effect from June 16.
Bilateral talks collapsed after the US withdrew incentives to $6.3 billion of Indian exports under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme effective June 5.
Talks revived after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump met at the Osaka G20 Summit and agreed on an early meeting of commerce ministers to sort out trade issues.
Trump has said previously that India and the US would have a “very big trade deal” to announce. To be sure, he’s repeatedly complained about India’s tariffs, especially about levies on Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
As part of the deal, the government has also considered various options to meet Washington’s demand for the removal of price caps and the regulation of trade margins on medical devices, the difference between the price at which manufacturers sell to the trade and what patients are charged (maximum retail price).
“One option is that the patent act provides that products patented in India can’t be subjected to price caps,” the official said. “The second option pertains to mass market and new products.”
The office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) had linked market access in the two areas of dairy and medical devices to continuation of GSP. The US had also sought data-related relaxations, including in India’s ecommerce policy. Indian officials said these are non-trade issues and will be handled separately by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. MeitY is still in the process of finalising the proposed law on data privacy.