The retaliatory tariffs imposed by India on several American products - particularly agricultural items like walnut, almond and apple - will badly hit millions of farmers in California, an influential American lawmaker said Thursday.
India announced a hike in customs duties on as many as 28 US products, including almond, apple, pulses and walnut, in response to higher tariffs imposed by Washington on Indian products like steel and aluminium.
The commerce ministry on Friday made public India's intention to go ahead with imposition of duty on American products, a move New Delhi had previously deferred in the hope of striking a trade deal.
"This trade war can't be fought at the expense of Central Valley farming communities," Congressman T J Cox said as farmers in California have started reaching out to the lawmakers and the US government on the adverse impact they are facing due to the trade war between India and the United States.
"70 percent tariffs on CA's top crops are India's latest strike in the needless Trump trade war. Not seeing any 'winners' yet, but the Central Valley could lose MILLIONS," Cox said.
Alyssa Ayres from the Council on Foreign Relations said President Donald Trump had picked a needless tariff fight with India, over steel and aluminum imports, which were never an issue before.
"Now, with India's retaliatory tariffs: $650-mn exports of California almond growers hurt due to Indo-US trade tiff," she said.
"India should lower many tariffs and become a more open market. But the steel and aluminum tariffs we have applied -which have prompted the new retaliatory tariffs delayed for months - came out of nowhere and we did not have to do this," Ayres said.
According to Western Growers Association, India is the largest importer of US almonds, with 2018 exports exceeding USD 500 million.
India was also the number two market for apples and a top ten market for walnuts within the 2017-2018 year, it said.
"In light of these new trade damages, the US Department of Agriculture has indicated it will adjust assistance for these affected commodities within the second forthcoming trade mitigation package; details on what such adjustments will look like are expected in the coming weeks," the organisation said in a statement.
Western Growers is engaging with USDA on this matter, as well as with the US Trade Representative's office on this new trade pressure, its impact on growers, and the need for a quick resolution to all existing trade conflicts, a media statement said.