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New Delhi [India], September 13 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party national general secretary Tarun Chugh on Wednesday accused the opposition leaders Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Priyanka Gandhi of "deliberately" misleading the apple growers of India by misinterpreting the Centre's decision on reducing duties on apples imported from the US.

This came after Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi slammed the government saying that the decision would impact the growers in the country.

Political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have also slammed the Centre's move. Training his guns at the opposition leaders, BJP leader Tarun Chugh, who is also party incharge of J-K, said that the political leaders were raising misleading fears in the minds of traders just to meet their political interests.

"There was no reduction in the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) duty on apples, walnuts and almonds, which still applies to all imported products, including US-origin products.

The Centre has reduced the import duty on the Washington apple and this decision will not result in any negative impact on domestic apple, walnut and almond producers. Rather, it will result in competition in the premium market segment of apples, walnuts and almonds, thereby ensuring better quality at competitive prices for our Indian consumers," Chugh said. He said the opposition leaders were raising misleading fears in the minds of traders just to gain political points by foul means.

He said the Central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always taken all decisions in the national interest and protected the interest of national consumers.

In June, the US and India agreed to terminate six outstanding disputes at the World Trade Organisation. India also agreed to reduce tariffs on certain US products, including chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, apples, boric acid, and diagnostic reagents, a United States Trade Representative statement said on Friday.

An additional 20 per cent duty was imposed on US apples in 2019 in response to a measure by Washington to increase tariffs on certain steel and aluminium products. There is no reduction on the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) duty on apples which is still applicable on all imported apples including in the US at 50 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry clarified that the decision would not impact local players.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Peeyush Kumar, additional secretary, Commerce Ministry said the government has sufficient policy space to support growers if there is any implication of the move.

Kumar said only the additional duty has been removed and the basic duty of 50 per cent will continue besides the minimum import on apples. (ANI)

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