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US senators object to wheat, rice subsidies in India; here's why

19 April 2024

In a bid to level the playing field, US senators have objected to the subsidies for wheat and rice in India. India has opened up its market to the American farming industry in as many as 12 different categories, as confirmed by a Biden administration trade official. 

US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tie during a congressional hearing on trade assured the lawmakers that the Biden administration is trying to level the playing field for American workers and businesses. “We are vigorously enforcing our trade agreements, defending American jobs, and making sure more people enjoy the benefits of trade,” she said.

This comes after some senators, including Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, alleged that India’s wheat subsidies are distorting prices, which is directly hurting American farmers. 

Wyden said that India’s wheat subsidies are distorting prices, making it harder for farmers in Oregon to compete at the Asian market. He also brought up Mexico’s “illegal fishing practices” that are hurting the environment and undermining American clean energy suppliers. Wyden said China has a long “rap sheet of unfair subsidies and trade practices” and that such “unfair practices by foreign countries” are directly hurting workers and companies in the US. 

The senator urged for enforcement of trade laws to keep such practices in check, and asked USTR to do more with the tools it has, including raising these issues with the trading partners or opening investigations into unfair trade practices.

"That’s the only way to hold trade cheats accountable and level the playing field for American workers and businesses,” Wyden said.

Moreover, Senator Steve Daines too emphasised on the access to India for lentil farmers from the US, a leading lentil producer. 

Tie told the congressional hearing that the Biden administration has secured $21 billion in market access over the last three years, including 12 tariff categories with India, a “growing opportunity for US exporters”. 

Senator Bill Cassidy also spoke about rice subsidies by India. He said that there’s a concern from American rice producers who claim that if it were not for the Indian subsidies for rice, they would have made roughly $850 million more in export. He also asked about the whistleblower's allegations of forced labour in the Indian shrimp industry to which Tie responded that it is not an easy conversation but they are taking up the issue. 

Tie, listing out the trade agreements the Biden administration made, said that after India and the US terminated seven WTO disputes, India agreed to remove retaliatory tariffs over several US products, thereby improving access to American chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts and apples, benefiting farmers across Michigan, Oregon, California and Washington. She said that this also means there’s more market access for turkey, duck, blueberries and cranberries benefiting the farmers in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts and Minnesota. 

Source : msn