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India seeks relief on tariff escalation issue

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SEEKING TARIFF RELIEF: Jairam Ramesh (right), Minister of State for Commerce, and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, at the inaugural session of the three-day India International Potato Expo 2008, in Kolkata on Wednesday.
SEEKING TARIFF RELIEF: Jairam Ramesh (right), Minister of State for Commerce, and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, at the inaugural session of the three-day India International Potato Expo 2008, in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Special Correspondent

Three-day international potato expo begins in Kolkata

WB second largest potato producer

Export facilitation centre planned

KOLKATA: Developed countries such as the U.S. should look into the plea of countries like India on the tariff escalation issue at the Doha round of WTO, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said.

Addressing the inaugural session of the International Potato Expo here on Wednesday, Mr. Ramesh said potato exemplified the tariff escalation issue that developing countries like India faced from the developed countries. Under this, import duties on primary commodities were pegged low but it went up in tune with the amount of processing that the goods underwent. “If value-added exports attract higher rates, then talks of reduced import duty fails to have value” he said. The US consul was also present on the occasion. However, he admitted that at a time when India was pressing for such concessions at WTO, it should also be prepared to extend similar reliefs in favour of lesser developed countries like Bangladesh.

Mr. Ramesh said that within the next five years India could capture a niche portion of the international potato market with exports to Europe and West Asia.

He said the Commerce Ministry had decided to part-finance the setting up of the country’s first integrated development and export facilitation centre in West Bengal.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the State, which was India’s second largest potato producer, had an annual surplus of over three million tonnes of potato but private investment by domestic and foreign companies was needed to process the potato either into flakes or powder as these items had good demand in Europe and West Asia.

The three-day convention where Union Agriculture Minister is set to address the concluding session is being attended by delegates from the U.S., Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands.


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