US eyes boosting agri exports to India

US eyes boosting agri exports to India

The United States remains eager on increasing its agri exports to India and closer collaborations with other countries in the dairy sector, US Ambassador Eric Garcetti said on Tuesday.

Garcetti, speaking at the 20th Indo-US Economic Summit organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, said this would involve the sale of US feed grains to India. In addition, he said, productivity in the dairy and other areas has levelled off in India, but that US companies can trigger improvements.

A non-stalled potential trade agreement between the countries had seen back and forth on U.S. demands that India buy dairy products.

Is not good enough, he said.

Due to the large portion of the workforce reliance on it, India has frequently been wary of opening up its market to foreign agri products. As both nations have systematically closed a series of existing disputes about tariffs and market access, Garcetti's remarks assume significance.

The Philippines' decision to allow the import of pork and pork products from the US as part of a bilateral trade deal that will ease the export of Indian mangoes and pomegranates to the US. The government lifted retaliatory tariffs on American apples, chickpeas, lentils, almonds and walnuts earlier this year.

The last week, India agreed to lower the import duty on some fresh and processed food items as part of a larger dispute settlement between New Delhi and Washington at the World Trade Organisation. The duties will be reduced on imports of frozen turkey and duck, as well as blueberries and cranberries.

But noting the need for doing away with 'even the smallest of friction between the two countries in terms of trade, Garcetti called for a further reduction of tariffs and the creation of a more predictable regulatory environment.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, India was the 13th largest destination for $200 billion worth of US agri exports as of 2022. For almost half of the $2.2 billion worth of US agri exports to India, almonds for almost half were made up, followed by cotton and ethanol, the USDA said in its 2022 Agricultural Export Yearbook.

India is the largest destination for US soybean oil, the second-largest for tree nuts, and the fourth-largest for ethanol. India is the fifth-largest importer of agricultural products, with 6 per cent of the total import market, behind Indonesia, Malaysia, Argentina, and Brazil.

The US is also willing to explore ways to get Indian food pre-approved for the US market, and vice versa by aligning standards, Garcetti said. California's Food and Drug Administration's Commissioner Robert M Califf led a delegation to India last week, Garcetti said.

India has the highest number of USFDA approved pharmaceutical plants outside the US, at more than 665.