New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) Ahead of the visit by US President Donald Trump next week, which could result in a limited trade deal between the US and India, the Poultry Federation of India has urged PM Modi to protect the domestic dairy sectors and not succumb to pressure to offer duty concessions to US.
The federation in a letter to the Prime Minister has urged him to “resist the temptation” of opening the poultry sector and slashing the import duty for American dairy products as sought by the US as it might put over 2 crore jobs at risk.
“About $100 million worth Indian rural economy and about 4 crore rural jobs involved in poultry, maize, oil seed, bajra and wheat will be destroyed if India reduces the duties on poultry products from the US, ” the letter read.
“If the Indian government is keen on pleasing Trump, it should allow import of feed raw materials like soya and maize at lower duty,” it added.
Earlier RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) had said that it remains opposed to any tariff concession or market access for products that might impact farmers’ income.
“If it is related to the livelihood of the people or religious issue or supplementation of the farmers’ income, one can not support (it),” SJM National Co-convener Ashwini Mahajan had said referring to media reports of India offering to open up dairy and poultry sector for American companies.
The SJM and many farmers’ groups had last year asked the government to not include dairy sector in the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega trade deal including China, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand apart from the 10 ASEAN countries as it will adversely affect the livelihood of millions of people in the country.
The government later pulled out of the proposed pact saying the deal was not in national interest.
After India put price caps on medical devices such as stents and knee implants, the Trump administration had in 2019 suspended India’s preferential trade status, thus withdrawing duty benefits for various items shipped from India.
During President Trump’s visit on February 24-25, it is widely expected that India and the US would sign a limited trade deal. Further, in order to get some of the preferences restored, India may offer some concessions such as opening the dairy sector and cutting tariff on chicken legs from 100 per cent to 25 per cent.
Industry sources said that Indian government is well aware of the concerns of the local dairy and poultry sectors and would unlikely go against them.
In what seems to be giving credence to it is that the US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer this week put off his trip to India suggesting that any trade deal compromising the interests of local farmers would be difficult to finalise.