Miami Herald | Sat, Apr. 14, 2007
U.S., India trade motorcycles for mangoes
BY GAVIN RABINOWITZ
Mouthwatering mangoes for macho motorcycles. That sounds like a fair trade.
Indian mangoes will hit U.S. shelves for the first time in 18 years, while Harley Davidson motorcycles will soon be cruising India’s roads, senior Indian and U.S. officials said Friday.
’’The good news is that our mangoes are going to America and Harley Davidson is coming here,’’ Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said at a meeting on Indo-U.S. trade ties in New Delhi.
The United States banned mangoes from India 18 years ago over concerns that Indian farmers used too many pesticides. Now Indian farmers will instead irradiate the fruit to kill any pests, making the mangoes fit for consumption in the eyes of U.S. agriculture officials.
Lifting the ban was first agreed on during President Bush’s visit to India last year.
Final details were worked out in a meeting Friday of the bilateral trade forum, chaired by Nath and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.
’’In a few short weeks, Indian mangoes will enter the U.S. market,’’ Schwab said.
In return, the way has been cleared for the Milwaukee-based Harley Davidson to enter the Indian market — one the world’s largest for motorbikes.
Their entry had been hampered by stringent emissions standards and tariffs of more than 90 percent.
’’We have received indications that the Indian government will accept Euro 3 [emission] standards for heavy motorcycles, creating an opportunity for a niche in the market,’’ Schwab said.
However, no agreement was reached on tariffs.
Schwab said total bilateral trade in goods and services could hit $50 billion this year, on track to hit goals set during Bush’s visit of doubling trade in three years.
Mangoes for motorcycles was posited as an example of how increasing trade can benefit both countries. While India and the United States seek to eke out closer ties after decades of mistrust, trade ties have been hampered by further disagreements — particularly at the World Trade Organization.
The United States wants greater access to India’s fast-growing economy, while India wants the United States to end farm subsidies so Indian farmers can compete.