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Countries should be concerned about India's trade-distorting policy: US

Press Trust of India/Washington 14 Sep 18 | 12:30 PM

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The US has alleged that India is providing massive subsidies to its farmers producing rice and wheat and said that other countries need to be concerned about New Delhi's "trade distorting policy".

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Chief Agricultural Negotiator Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) Gregory Doud made the comments during a Congressional hearing Thursday.

"Every rice- or wheat-producing country around the world should be concerned about the trade effects of India's trade distorting domestic support," Doud told lawmakers.

In May, Doud travelled to Geneva to deliver the US' first ever counter notification to the WTO's Committee on Agriculture concerning India's market price support for rice and wheat.

"The US estimates that India supports its rice producers ranging from 74 to 84.2 per cent of the value of production and wheat producers ranging between 60.1 to 68.5 per cent of the value of production between 2010 and 2014 when India is only allowed to provide up to 10 per cent of the value of production of a particular commodity," Doud alleged.

Over the last five years, India has exported between $5.3 billion and $8 billion of rice, which is more than any other country in the world. India's global wheat exports ranged between $70 million to $1.9 billion during the same time period, he said.

Testifying before the same committee, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney told lawmakers that during his recent India visit he met with senior officials to discuss the importance of science- based food safety policies and to promote US exports.

Doud said that he was disappointed that in recent months US' trading partners have decided to retaliate against nearly $30 billion of its $143 billion in agricultural exports following necessary actions taken under trade laws to defend national security or to respond to unfair trade practices.

"During my first six months in this role, I have had over 150 meetings with stakeholders and have met hundreds of farmers, ranchers and agribusiness representatives - all of them have communicated to me the impact of the tariffs and the role of trade for all commodities including row crops, livestock, horticulture, and processed products," he said.

The US is taking action at the WTO to counter this unjustified retaliation. The Trump Administration is working to expand market opportunities for US producers, he told lawmakers.

McKinney said that America's hard-working agricultural producers have been treated unfairly by China's trading practices and targeted specifically with retaliatory tariffs in a blatant attempt by China to exert political pressure on Congress and the Trump Administration.

In response to this unjustified retaliation by China and other countries, the President has directed to craft a short term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals. Specifically, USDA authorised up to USD 12 billion for three mitigation programmes to assist agricultural producers.

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