CAIT urges PM to exclude dairy products from RCEP

Traders body CAIT on Friday asked the prime minister to exclude dairy products from the purview of the proposed RCEP agreement to protect domestic dairy farmers as India is the world's largest producer of milk.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, CAIT said the government is finalising the RCEP pact and is considering allowing import of dairy products from countries like New Zealand and Australia which are known for huge dairy exports.

It pointed out that New Zealand produces 14 times more dairy products than its domestic requirement and exports more than 93 per cent of its total milk.

"We fear that if India agrees for import of dairy products under RCEP agreement then it would be detrimental to Indian dairy industry and may create huge loss to milk producers of India and the dream of doubling farmers’ income would be shattered.

"Considering the threat to the dairy industry, we request you to kindly advise concerned Ministry/Department to keep all dairy products out of the purview of RCEP," said the CAIT's letter addressed to the prime minister.

Quoting a Niti Aayog report, CAIT said the demand for milk will be around 292 million tonne against the domestic production of 330 million tonne by 2033.

Thus, India will be surplus in milk products and the question of imports does not arise, said Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) adding that India is already the world's largest producer of milk.

Meanwhile, top Union ministers including Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a crucial meeting on Friday on the proposed RCEP pact, said an official.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Hardeep Singh Puri also attended the meeting.

The meeting is significant as trade ministers of 16 RCEP countries will hold discussions in Bangkok next week to take stock of the negotiations.

RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) is being negotiated among 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their six trade partners -- Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.

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