India greenlights US pork imports in exchange for greater access to US fresh produce market

INDIA – India has ended a long-standing trade barrier on US agricultural trade and has agreed to allow US pork imports to enter the country.  

The recent development was a result of concerted efforts by US secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and attorney and trade representative Katherine Tai.  

“This new opportunity marks the culmination of nearly two decades of work to gain market access for U.S. pork to India – and it signals positive movement in US-India trade relations,” says Vilsack.  

Vilsack said Washington was working to ensure the U.S. pork industry could start shipping products to India as soon as possible.

He said the deal marked the culmination of two decades of seeking market access for U.S. pork to India. 

Allowing US imports is a boost for the US which is currently the world’s third-largest pork producer and second-largest exporter with global sales of pork and pork products valued at US$7.7 billion in 2020.  

Historically India and the US have had several persistent challenges in their bilateral trade relationship, including in agricultural trade. 

Tao however elaborated that the two sides will continue working to strengthen the US-India trade relationship adding that he appreciates Minister Goyal’s efforts to facilitate this important development.  

At a revived U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum in New Delhi last November, India and the United States agreed to expand trade of some agricultural products, including U.S. cherries, alfalfa and distiller dried grains as well as Indian mangoes, grapes, shrimp and water buffalo meat. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Joe Biden in Washington in September and both leaders agreed to expand trade ties to strengthen relations between the world’s largest and richest democracies. 

Part of the wins for India in this new trade deal is a green light to resume the export of mangoes and pomegranates to the US.   

India is a major producer of mangoes with 2021 figures from Statista estimating that the country produces around 20.9 million metric tons while pomegranate production was estimated at 2.8 million. 

Access to the US market could not be timelier as mango consumption in the North American nation continues to grow annually, according to the executive director of the National Mango Board, Manuel Michel. 

“There is no limit to its growth. If the mango arrives with the right quality and there is promotion so that consumers know it is available, I don’t think it’ll have a limit,” Michel observes.  

With the trade deal already in an advanced stage, Reuters reported that India is still pressing for restoration of its beneficiary status under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). 

The GSP program provides some tariff-free access for imports from developing countries that expired at the end of 2020. 

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