India, United States ready for an apple a day, ending WTO disputes

The state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States of America, at the invitation of President Joe Biden, is unlocking a lot of benefits, including the decision taken by the two countries to end their tariff disputes at the World Trade Organization.

US Senator Mark Warner chomps on apples from his state, Virginia, whose export to India had been affected by the US-India dispute at WHO. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@MarkWarner

US Senator Mark Warner, representative of Virginia, celebrated the end of the six disputes by munching on some apple. His Twitter post said: “An exciting outcome from PM Modi’s visit… India has agreed to end retaliatory tariffs on apples, opening up huge economic opportunities for apple farmers across Virginia! American producers benefit from our strong and strengthening relationship with India.”

India and the US have agreed to end six trade disputes at the WTO while New Delhi will also remove retaliatory customs duties on 28 American products such as almonds, walnuts, and apples.

Commenting on this development, experts said that this would boost two-way commerce and strengthen economic ties. They added that future disputes should be solved bilaterally through a strong mechanism, so that the problems do not require filing a formal complaint at the WTO.

International trade expert Biswajit Dhar, a former professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, said, “We now have to see what trade-offs happen between the countries to finally end these trade disputes. The announcement overall looks positive. A strong mechanism needs to be put in place so that such disputes do not occur and be resolved bilaterally through mutually agreed solutions.”

Welcoming the announcement, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) Director General Ajay Sahai said, “It is positive development. We were eagerly waiting for this decision. This will give a fillip to India’s exports to the US.”

The six disputes include three each initiated by India and the US. These pertain to countervailing measures on certain hot-rolled carbon steel flat products from India; certain measures relating to solar cells and modules; measures relating to the renewable energy sector; export-related measures; certain measures on steel and aluminium products; and additional duties on some products from the US. According to trade experts, both countries can resolve the disputes on mutually agreed terms and later inform the Geneva-based WTO about it.