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India urges European Union to reduce non-tariff barriers on food.

Date: 21-02-2020
Subject: India urges European Union to reduce non-tariff barriers on food
NEW DELHI: India has asked the European Union to reduce non-tariff barriers such as maximum residue level (MRL) limits on food products as they have impacted exports of rice, peanuts, chillies and spices, tea, grapes, vegetables and sea food.

Insisting that MRL limits on these food products are much higher than the limits set by the standard setting agencies such as CODEX, and trade restrictive, India said it “remains concerned” over this practice as it is defended on grounds other than demonstrated risks to human or animal health or the environment.

“We urge the EU to reduce and eliminate these non-tariff barriers,” India said on Tuesday during the EU’s trade policy review at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

India exported merchandise worth $40.7 billion to the EU in the nine months to December 2019 while it imported $38.2 billion worth of goods from the trading bloc.

New Delhi also sought the benefit of duty-free import to all 32 varieties of husked basmati rice as compared to eight as was originally agreed by EU in 2004. Allaying the EU’s fears on Indian tea having a chemical that is used in manufacture of dyes, New Delhi said it is an unfounded misperception as the Indian tea sector uses no anthraquinone.

India also flagged its concern on the EU impounding, delaying or confiscating traditional and generic medicines for use in Africa and Latin America that transit through EU ports. Besides harming Indian exporters, such actions deprive the poor in various countries of access to these generic medicines, which have had a major role in fighting the scourge of diseases and infections, including HIV/AIDS, in Africa.

Ahead of the WTO ministerial meeting in Nur Sultan (Kazakhstan) in June, India reiterated its demand that EU and other developed countries reduce their trade-distorting farm subsidies called the Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS). While the average current total AMS for the EU was around $10.8 billion, the EU continues to have a disproportionately high entitlement of approximately $80 billion.

On the issue of diverse and complex nature of the EU’s applied tariff rates, India said these complex tariffs act as barriers to trade and asked for a shift towards ad valorem tariffs for greater transparency and predictability to global trade rules.

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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