Air India issued CCI notice over Vistara merger

New Delhi: India’s fair-trade regulator has issued a show-cause notice to Air India, asking the Tata-owned airline why an investigation into its proposal to merge with Vistara should not be conducted, according to two persons familiar with the matter.

Salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group has 30 days to respond to the notice by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and secure approval for the merger of its airlines without an investigation.

If the CCI is unmoved by the response and decides to pursue an investigation, the Tatas have two choices — one, divest their stake in Vistara, and two, commit to “behavioural guidelines” that will not adversely impact competition in the aviation sector, said one of the persons cited above.

The Tatas sought the approval of CCI to merge Air India and Vistara, the group’s joint venture with Singapore Airlines (SIA), in April.

The CCI notice comes amid growing unrest among passengers over rising airfares, prompting the government to ask airlines to ensure reasonable fares. Air India and larger competitor IndiGo have ordered a record number of planes, triggering concerns that the Indian aviation market is headed for a duopoly.

Retaliatory duty removal on US apples imports not to affect domestic growers

New Delhi: With the decision of resolution of six outstanding World Trade Organisation (WTO) disputes between US and India through mutually agreed solutions as jointly communicated during the state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US, India will remove additional duties on eight US products, including apples, leading to restoration of market access for Indian steel and aluminium exports to the US.

The decision will not result in any negative impact on domestic apple producers and will result in competition in the premium market segment ensuring better quality at better prices for consumers, Commerce Ministry sources said.

After removal of this duty, the apples from the US would compete on a level playing field with other countries. The decision will ensure that only premium quality apples could be imported for which there exists a specific market segment and specific demand, they added. 

An additional 20 per cent duty was imposed on US apples in 2019 in response to US’ measure to increase tariffs on certain steel and aluminum products. 

Official sources however were quick to clarify that there is no reduction on most favoured nation (MFN) duty on apples, which is still applicable on all imported apples including on US at 50 per cent. 

The import of apples from the US has decreased from $145 million (127,908 tonnes in 2018-19) to only $5.27 million (4,486 tonnes) in 2022-23. 

Image courtesy of Twitter

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