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HomeHimachal PradeshForget raising apple import duty to 100%, Modi govt reducing it to...

Forget raising apple import duty to 100%, Modi govt reducing it to bare minimum, say Himachal orchardists, plan to start agitation

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The Newz Radar

SHIMLA: Orchardists in Himachal Pradesh are seething with anger following a recent decision to allegedly reduce import duty on foreign apples. The move, they believe, will severely impact the market for Himachal’s apples, resulting in a surge in imports of foreign varieties.

The most significant blow has come from Iranian apples entering via Afghanistan, crippling local growers.For years, horticulturists in the state have been lobbying for an increase in import duties on apples to 100 per cent. However, the decision to “lower import duty” has come as a major setback to them.

Reports indicate that the import duty on apples arriving from the US will be slashed by 20 per cent.The horticulturists’ association intends to address this issue with the central government through the Chief Minister and the state Horticulture Minister.

Each year, the state’s apple industry generates Rs 5,000 crore in revenue, playing a pivotal role in the state’s economy. The majority of the annual income for orchardists is derived solely from apples.Foreign apples, especially those from Iran via Afghanistan, have become a formidable challenge for Himachal’s growers.

The influx of foreign apples in substantial quantities has caused Himachal’s apples to fetch lower prices in the market.Apple is imported to India from 44 countries, including Iran, Turkey, Chile, Washington, Italy, France, and New Zealand. In recent years, there has been a ban on Chinese apple imports.

A uniform 50 per cent import duty is currently levied on apples from these nations, with Washington having an import duty rate of up to 75 per cent following an increase in 2018.Representatives of the horticulturists argue that according to the World Trade Organisation agreement, import duties can be raised to as much as 75 per cent.

However, the current duty rate stands at 50 per cent, leaving a scope for raising it by 25 per cent to “save” Himachali varieties.Himachal’s orchardists have lobbied both central and state governments to raise the import duty on apples to 100 per cent. Even ministers and leaders from Himachal Pradesh have continually advocated for this cause with the BJP government at the center.

Chaman Tanta, an orchardist, expressed concerns stating that imported apples were posing a severe threat to the region’s apples. The demand for increasing import duties on apples has been ongoing since 2012, with no relief provided to state growers.

With the reduction in import duties, orchardists are gearing up for street protests in response to what they see as a critical threat to their livelihoods.

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