ASSOCHAM seeks reduction in customs duty for seafood and poultry
In a rather interesting development, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India[ASSOCHAM] has urged the Government to reduce the customs duty on seafood and chicken to bring down food inflation and meet the growing demand for these food articles.
In its pre-Budget memorandum on indirect taxes submitted to the Centre, the organization said the custom duty of 30 per cent imposed on chilled and frozen sea food was too high and it should be brought down to 10 per cent.
Local fisheries will not get affected in any way by the imports since the domestic production of sea food was much below the demand, it said.
â€œHigh import duty makes it unviable to bring in a variety of sea food products available globally which shall reduce food inflation tremendously and provide much-needed proteins to Indians at cheap cost,â€ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM.
On poultry imports, the chamber has suggested to the Central Government to reduce customs duty on chilled and frozen chicken meat to 20 per cent.
The move, Mr. Rawat said, was unlikely to destabilise the Rs 40,000 crore Indian poultry industry because majority of Indian market preferred live poultry over frozen food. â€œThough chicken is a basic non-vegetarian food, but import duty on chicken products is as high as 100 per cent. As such, India is not able to import chicken,â€ highlighted the ASSOCHAM recommendation.
Considering that prices of chicken produced in India are mostly much higher than that in rest of the world as its cost is decided upon its production, ASSOCHAM appealed that it should be based on international prices. â€œThis shall have huge impact on food inflation,â€ it said.
The memorandum noted that demand for frozen chicken and sea food are likely to grow steadily because of factors like growing affordability, rising health consciousness, increasing consumer awareness and with more women getting into jobs.”