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India slashes customs duties on 4800 items from SAARC nations

04 January, 2008

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NEW DELHI: India has scrapped import duty on more than 4,800 items from four neighbouring countries and reduced customs tariff on these products from Pakistan and Sri Lanka as part of efforts to boost trade in South Asia.

"The import duty has been reduced from 16-40 per cent to zero level on items like meat, fish, milk, dairy products, and dry fruits from the neighbouring least developing countries (LDCs) - Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives," a Finance Ministry official said.

However, the duty rates on these items have been reduced to 12-20 per cent on goods imported from Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The new rates come into effect from January 1. All pharmaceutical products and drugs can now be imported at 10 per cent duty from LDCs, as against 12.5 per cent duty earlier. However, tariff on drugs has not been cut in case of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a Finance Ministry notification said.

Customs duty on fertiliser, lime and cement items has been cut to 10 per cent in case of LDCs, but it would remain at 12.5 per cent for Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Dairy products, excluding milk powder, and butter oil can also been imported from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives at zero duty.

The decision to abolish duty on dairy products from these countries is unlikely to impact the domestic market or benefit these countries, as they are not major players in milk market. Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which could export dairy products to India, would have to pay 20 per cent duty on these products.

Referring to the impact of abolition of customs duty on edible oil, Central Organisation of Oil Industry & Trade Executive Director D N Pathak said: "The duty cut on edible oil will not impact as no crude palm oil is imported from SAARC countries.


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