By Auqib Javeed | Kashmir Observer
Srinagar- In a big relief to apple growers, the central Government has introduced Minimum Important Price (MIP) for apples—which will bar apples from other countries without tax.
The order has brought cheer to apple growers of the valley who were repeatedly pleading the government not to allow tax free apples.
“The tax free import of apples from other countries, especially from Iran, was decreasing the rate of apples being produced here. So, it is good news,” said Fayaz Ahmad Malik, president of Sopore Fruit Mandi.
Malik further said it was the long pending demand of the apple growers to levy taxes on apples from other countries and they growers welcome it.
The government has amended its import policy for apples by introducing MIP. According to an official notification issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, import of apples is now prohibited and import is free only if CIF value is above Rs 50 per kg.
“In exercise of powers conferred by Section 3 read with Section 5 of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992, read with paragraph 1.02 and 2.01 of the Foreign Trade Policy 2023, as amended from time to time, the Central Government hereby amends the import policy condition under ITC(HS) 08081000 of Chapter-08 of ITC (HS), 2022, Schedule-I (Import Policy).” reads the notification, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Observer.
Import of apples under ITC (HS) 08081000 is now ‘Prohibited’ wherever the CIF Import Price is less than equal to Rs. 50/- per kilogram. However, these Minimum Import Price (MIP) conditions shall not be applicable for imports from Bhutan.
Speaking with Kashmir Observer, Mohammad Saidiq, President fruit traders Anantnag said that they are yet to go through the notification and they will come-up with the statement shortly.
Earlier, the apple growers maintained that a large quantity of Iranian apples would flood Indian markets, which ultimately was hitting the Kashmiri apple’s market share.
The growers claim that the free trade agreement (FTA) was being misused under the trade name of Afghan apple.
It may be noted that both Afghanistan and India are members of the South Asian Free Trade Zone (SAFTA) and hence they do not impose duty on imports from each other. However, Iran is not part of SAFTA but apples from there reach India via Afghanistan, bypassing import duties and taking the benefit from it.
Horticulture has a vital role to play in the economy of J&K. In 2019, Kashmir produced about 1.9 million metric tons of apples, the highest in the country.