US lawmaker asks Pompeo to raises almond tariff issue with Modi
Washington: Ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to India next week, an influential American lawmaker has asked him to take up the issue of increased tariff on almonds during his meeting with Prime Minster Narendra Modi.
India has announced a hike in customs duties on as many as 28 US products, including almond, apple, pulses and walnut, in response to higher tariffs imposed by Washington on Indian products like steel and aluminium.
The commerce ministry last week made public India's intention to go ahead with imposition of duty on American products, a move New Delhi had previously deferred in the hope of striking a trade deal.
Congressman Josh Harder in a letter asked Pompeo to address new retaliatory tariffs on almonds with Modi during his meeting in New Delhi next week.
Harder's district is one of the largest producers of almonds in the country, and India is the top export destination for the product.
"Our top diplomat is meeting with India's Prime Minister - his job is to advance American interests, and that includes the needs of the Central Valley. I hope he takes this seriously, because these tariffs could be a big problem for our local economy," said Harder in his letter.
Pompeo will be visiting India from June 25 to June 27. His visit comes ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29.
During his visit, Pompeo will meet Prime Minister Modi and his new Indian counterpart External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
"India is an important market for California almonds. This shipping season, India is our #1 export destination and has been growing in light of the on-going trade situation with China," said Elaine Trevino, president of Almond Alliance of California in an accompanying statement.
"We are hopeful that these tariffs are resolved quickly and don't disrupt the access Indian consumers have to California almonds," Trevino said.
California's largest agricultural export is almonds, the Congressman said, adding that US farmers export over USD 650 million worth of almonds to India annually.
"As you are aware, India has just increased the duty on almonds in retaliation for the President removing India from GSP treatment for Indian exports. My district is one of the largest producers of almonds in the country and will certainly feel the pain of these tariffs," he wrote.
"We need to be doing more to support our farmers. I request you aim to resolve this issue during your meeting in India. I look forward to your response and learning of progress on these conversations on your trip," Harder said.