While an additional tariff of 25% was imposed on certain items imported from the US, tariffs were reduced on many agri products coming from Asian countries.
India could export soya bean, groundnut and oilmeals to China if the US-China trade war persists. With Beijing raising duties on American oilmeals, Delhi is hopeful of using this price advantage to its favour, officials said. “If this situation persists for a few days, this tariff imposition will give us a window of opportunity to export soya, soymeal, groundnut and groundnut meal to China. We will have a price advantage in the absence of the US,” said a commerce department official. China has imposed additional tariff of 25% on soya bean, chemical products, and medical equipment imported from the US but reduced tariffs on many agricultural products including soya bean from its Asia Pacific Trade Agreement partners comprising India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Korea and Laos. The industry hopes to export $100 million worth of soya bean meal to China and around $50 million of groundnut because of the two enabling factors. At present, India does not export any soya bean oil or flour of soya bean but sends negligible amount of oilcake obtained from soya bean oil extraction to China. Groundnut exports are subject to a 15% duty in China. “We were not competitive in soya bean meal and groundnut earlier but now there is a price advantage for us,” said Sanjiv Sawla, former chairman of Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council. However, both the industry and the government are concerned about the non-tariff barriers that have historically slowed the pace of exports to China. “We have non-tariff barriers on a lot of agricultural products such as meals. Barriers like pending plant inspection and yet to be signed quarantine protocol still exist,” the commerce department official said. “Non-tariff barriers are a challenge because the Chinese are not used to Indian products. We have to reinvent the wheel,” said Sawla, who is also the director of M Lakhamsi & Co, a manufacturing company engaged in processing of peanut, sesame seed and other oilseeds. India-US trade issues Even as it seeks to reduce its trade deficit with China by exporting more, India has prepared a white paper to bring its trade relations back on track with the US. A delegation from India comprising officials from the ministries of commerce and external affairs will visit the US early next week and discuss the contentious issues of high tariffs on steel and aluminium. “We have prepared the white paper. The visit will take place early next week. Officials from ministries of commerce and external affairs will be part of the delegation,” said an official in the know. The two countries plan to follow a two-track approach to iron out their trade issues. The first is to resolve immediate concerns in the short to medium term and the other pertains to expanding bilateral trade in the long run.