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India open to lowering duties on luxury goods: Nath

Last updated on: March 30, 2007 13:28 IST

The government on Friday said it was open to reducing duties on imports of luxury products in a way which does not impact the domestic market.

"If the industry comes up with some items on which duties can be brought down without hurting the local industry, we will be happy to look at it," Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said at the Hindustan Times Mint Luxury Conference.

He said India has high tariffs on imports of items like textiles and leather products because it does not want cheap imports from countries like China to swamp the local market.

Nath said India can look at the tariff model which was applicable to wines and spirits where high value products are subjected to lower duty.

On high duties in wines and spirits, he said: "We do recognise that duties on wines is high. We are looking at lowering tariffs. We are in the advanced of negotiations and the issue will be addressed."

The European Union has already complained against India at the World Trade Organisation on the high tariffs. Nath, however, was confident the issue would be addressed through negotiations.

While expressing his willingness on cut duties, Nath also said Europe must accept imports of India whiskey.

At present, the European Union does not recognise Indian whiskey as such as it is made of molasses. According to the definition of World Customs Organisation, only spirits made from grain can be called whiskey.

Nath said since allowing FDI in single brand retail sector last year, as many as 26 proposals have been received.

Of these, 12 have been approved and three rejected, while 11 proposals were still under consideration.

He asked big luxury brands to help take the Indian brands on global stage.

Trade Minister of France Christine Lagarde, who was also present on the occasion, offered French expertise on registration of Indian designs so that their creators can get maximum value.

She said bilateral trade has grown to around $5 billion and French government has identified India as one of the five countries where it would provide incentives to its domestic companies for trade and investment.

"We provide tax breaks, insurance support and finance visits to exhibition and fairs," Lagarde said.

She also said France has recently liberalised its visa regime with an objective to attract highly qualified Indians. Nath, however, wanted France to liberalise its rules for short-term visas so that Indian IT companies can send people there to provide services.

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