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India to allow Harley Davidson import
[March 25, 2007]

India to allow Harley Davidson import

(The Times of India Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) NEW DELHI: It's going to be mangoes in return for Harley Davidson bikes. In a quid pro quo, India is going to allow the import of a specified number of the iconic motorcycles at lower duty, while US is finally going to announce the entry of Indian mangoes.

While the various Indian agencies involved are nearly ready with notifications that will allow the use of tariff rate quotas lower import duty for a specified number of bikes, the announcement on mangoes is expected during US Trade Representative Susan Schwab's visit for the India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meet next month.

Though the government had linked the entry of Harley Davidson bikes, which will be required to comply with Euro III norms, with permissions to SBI and ICICI Bank to open more branches in the US, it has had to give up on its demand. Even the decision on mangoes is over a year old and is finally fructifying now.

Besides, officials said, the delay by the US has meant that Indian mangoes may not be able to reach American shores since the season is weeks away and exporters are yet to tie up with US stores.

Indian mangoes have been unable to reach American homes due to US standards on treatment of weevils and fruit fly. The US prefers irradiation instead of the vapour heat treatment (VHT). Besides, it wanted to levy a fee which would have made Indian mangoes less competitive.

Though government has not given up on its demand for bank branches just yet, it has finally realised that there is little that it can do without amending the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to provide that terrorism per se is an offence.

US made it a pre-requisite for India to become a member of the elite Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and a necessary condition for disposal of SBI and ICICI Bank's applications which have been pending for over two years.

Banks apart, there are other issues that the US is expected to raise during the TPF. While duty on pet foods may have been cut in the budget, there are issues regarding the standards that have been put in place, which require a certain amount of heating, that the US wants to be dropped so that its dog and cat food manufacturers can sell more in India.

Similarly, India's fumigation standards for import of almonds and pulses are expected to crop up during the talks. And with India having announced its intent to import more wheat to augment domestic supplies, US may go all out to ensure that standards are fixed in a way that American exporters benefit the most.

Last year, US authorities raised a hue and cry about Indian standards after they discovered that their exporters were at a disadvantage to their Australian counterparts.

Copyright 2007 The Times of India. Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd. Source : Financial Times Information Limited

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