No mangoes, no bikes. With the US taking its time to formally allow the import of Indian mangoes, the government has decided to adopt a “wait and watch” policy on allowing entry of American-built Harley-Davidson motor cycles into India.
The commerce ministry was earlier expected to notify norms to allow import of Harley-Davidson motor cycles, ahead of the visit of the US trade representative (USTR) Susan Schwab.
Schwab is visiting the Capital this week to participate in World Trade Organization’s Doha trade negotiations with select trade ministers, and attend a bilateral trade policy forum meeting with her counterpart, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath.
“We are ready with the notification, but have decided to wait to see if the US side will make a formal announcement to allow import of our Indian mangoes this season,” a senior commerce ministry official said.
The government had agreed to recognize the Euro III emission norms for the Harley- Davidson bikes and as an added sweetener decided not to impose an import cap. The commerce ministry was earlier considering imposing an import quota for these bikes.
Meanwhile, India has been making a case to allow import of its mangoes to the US for the last 17 years. They have not been allowed on account of tough US norms regarding eradiation.
Official said an expert-level committee, under the purview of the US agriculture department, was in the Capital last week to approve the testing facilities for mangoes.
“There is no word yet on whether the committee has submitted its report and whether the report has been accepted by the US administration. If the report is not approved, the USTR may only be able to offer us an assurance and not make a formal announcement,” an official, who did not wish to be identified said.
“As per the requirements laid down by the US, Indian mangoes shipped there would have to bear an added cost of testing for eradiation. So far, as much as $90,000 has been spent on the visits of US officials for testing the facilities and orchards in India. This will have to be borne by the exporters,” an official claimed.
Officials said there was a view within the government that India had already made some unilateral concessions to the US, including extending the period for zero duty import of pulses until March 2008 and relaxing the fumigation norms for almonds in November.
In turn, the US side is expected to raise the issue of restrictions imposed by India on allowing import of pet foods and poultry products.
India has twin conditions for pet foods: the processing should be at 70 degree centigrade for 30 minutes and should be free from avian influenza. Agriculture ministry officials said while India was open to relaxing the avian influenza norm for pet foods, it would retain both conditions for import of poultry products.
Officials also said the government had not yet firmed up its response to the US offer regarding wheat imports.
“The US had made a suggestion that India could consider setting up mills at the ports to convert wheat into flour, and thereby avoid the fear of unwanted weeds entering Indian soil,” an agriculture ministry official said, adding that no decision had been taken on the proposal.
India, in turn is also expected to raise the issue of allowing more Indian banks to open branches in the US.