US lawmaker and apple growers celebrate export of apples to India | World News - Hindustan Times
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US lawmaker and apple growers celebrate export of apples to India

PTI |
Feb 21, 2024 07:37 AM IST

US lawmaker and apple growers celebrate export of apples to India

This moment was celebrated at a Seattle port on Tuesday.

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Apple growers from Washington State have almost a million boxes of apples this year to India, which is 16 times more than last year.

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"This is a new day in trade relations between the United States and India," Senator Maria Cantwell told reporters in Seattle on Tuesday.

She was joined by Prakash Gupta, the Consul General of the newly opened India Consulate in Seattle, along with apple growers from Central Washington and labour and port officials.

"Apples are the pride of the Washington agricultural economy. They are known worldwide. Today is a celebration because, for five years now, we have not seen the volume of apples leaving these docks and travelling to India," said Cantwell, who was flanked by apple growers.

In retaliation for the then-Trump Administration’s decision to revoke India’s trade benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme in March 2019, New Delhi imposed several retaliatory tariffs on American products, including Apple.

This increase in import tariff on apples by 20 per cent, caused the apple export market from Washington state to India to plunge. Before the tariffs were imposed, Washington growers exported USD 120 million worth of apples to India and at the lowest point, growers exported less than USD 1 million. This had a massive financial impact on apple growers from Washington State.

But business is back to normal this harvest season after the retaliatory tariffs were lifted during the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US.

Washington State Apple Commission said Washington growers have shipped approximately 1,190,000 40 lb. boxes of apples to India this season.

So far, total apple sales from Washington to India are estimated to be about USD 19.5 million, and growers are only halfway through the shipping season. By comparison, the 2022-23 season totals were just 73,000 40 lb. boxes shipped and USD 1.3 million in sales.

"We are very committed to growing the Washington-India relationship in many fronts, in aviation, in technology, in healthcare, and especially in agriculture,” Cantwell said.

“When Prime Minister Modi addressed the United States Congress in his recent visit he said we're going to increase trade with the United States. And then he said and these are the places and the first state he mentioned was Washington. I always like to point out it's not because we were in alphabetical order. It's because India believes that this new (Consulate) and with this new export cooperation, that it is a very unique relationship. We are going to put in a lot of effort to grow for the future,” she said.

Welcoming the opening of the new consulate in Seattle, the American Senator said that so many people in India could benefit from American apples.

“This will help us in Washington. It will help stabilise the growth that we have in the central part of the state. To have this market grow for the future gives our producers the ability to continue to do what they do best,” she said.

“So today is a celebration because for five years now we have not seen this volume of apples leaving these docks and travelling to India. This is a guarantee that they are going to reach their destination and have shelf space. As Todd mentioned, that means we want more shelf space. We want them to be a permanent part of the Indian economy and we want to grow the relationship,” Cantwell told reporters.

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