BOURBON WHISKEY and frozen chicken cuts from the US may soon become cheaper in India. These are among the items in a basket of American food and beverage products that the government is finalising to reduce import duties as part of New Delhi’s bid to resolve its trade issues with Washington.
Sources told The Indian Express that this basket also includes walnuts, apples, un-denatured ethanol and milk albumin. The list has been circulated to the departments concerned and will be discussed at a secretary-level inter-ministerial meeting on October 21.
The meeting comes weeks after US President Donald Trump shared the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Howdy Modi event in Houston on September 22.
“The issues to be discussed in the meeting include reduction of import tariff on Bourbon whiskey from 150 per cent to 30 per cent and on frozen chicken cuts from 100 per cent to 30 per cent. Besides, reduction of import duty
on walnuts from 100 per cent to 10 per cent and on apples from 50 to 10 per cent will also be discussed,” said sources.
Over the last few years, there has been a rise in import of Bourbon whiskey in India, with the US being the main exporter. However, during the current financial year, the UK has taken the top position.
According to the data compiled by the Department of Commerce, India imported 2.28 lakh litres of Bourbon whiskey in 2018-19 — 1.95 lakh litres from the US and only 250 litres from the UK. However, data for April to August during the current financial year show that 3.80 lakh litres were imported — 1.29 lakh litres from the US and 1.48 lakh litres from the UK.
“The officials will also discuss the reduction of tariff on un-denatured ethanol from 150 per cent to a suitable level as well as its import for fuel blending, removal of import licence requirement for biofuels, and reduction of import duty on milk albumin from 20 per cent to 10 per cent. The issue of trade margin rationalisation of medical devices will also be deliberated,” said sources.
Among those who have been asked to attend the meeting are officials from departments such as agriculture and farmers’ welfare, animal husbandry and dairy, pharmaceuticals, food and public distribution; ministries of health and family welfare, food processing industry, petroleum and natural gas; and the national pharmaceutical pricing authority.
India had imposed higher tariffs on US products such as almonds, apples and walnuts in retaliation to the American move to withdraw privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for India in June.
The US is demanding market access for dairy products and “brewing or distilling dregs and waste”, which will be discussed during the meeting, sources said.