Economy

Trump asks India to withdraw tariff hike; calls it unacceptable

Reuters NEW DELHI | Updated on June 27, 2019 Published on June 27, 2019

US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media.   -  Bloomberg

India imposed higher tariffs on 28 US products following US' withdrawal of key trade privileges under GSP

US President Donald Trump on Thursday demanded India withdraw retaliatory tariffs imposed by New Delhi this month, calling the duties “unacceptable” in a stern message that signals trade ties between the two countries are fast deteriorating.

India slapped higher duties on 28 US products after the United States withdrew tariff-free entry for certain Indian goods. Washington is also upset with New Delhi's plans to restrict cross-border data flows and impose stricter rules on e-commerce that hurt U.S. firms operating in India.

Read more: India imposes higher customs duty on 28 US products

“I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the tariffs even further,” Trump said on Twitter. “This is unacceptable and the tariffs must be withdrawn!” said Trump, who will meet Modi at this week's G20 summit in Japan.

Government sources rejected Trump's argument, saying Indian tariffs were not that high compared to other developing countries and US tariffs on some items were much higher. India's trade ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters email seeking comment.

Trump's tweet came hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left New Delhi after meeting Modi. Pompeo had said the nations were “friends who can help each other all around the world” and the current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship”.

In one tweet, though, Trump may have badly undermined Pompeo's efforts to reduce friction between the two countries.

Related news: US ready to iron out trade row with India in a ‘friendly spirit’: Pompeo

Trump in May scrapped trade privileges for India under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), under which New Delhi was the biggest beneficiary that allowed duty-free exports of up to $5.6 billion. India initially issued an order in June last year to raise import taxes as high as 120 per cent on a slew of US items, incensed by Washington's refusal to exempt it from higher steel and aluminium tariffs.

Also read: Trump terminates preferential trade status for India under GSP

But New Delhi repeatedly delayed raising tariffs as the two nations engaged in trade talks. Trade between them was worth $142.1 billion in 2018, with India having a surplus of $24.2 billion. The relationship took a big hit with India's sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February.

That angered the United States which saw a protectionist New Delhi effort to help small traders at the expense of U.S. firms such as Walmart and Amazon.com Inc. Companies such as Mastercard and Visa have also been battling Indian central bank rules that mandate them to store their data only in India.

Published on June 27, 2019
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.