US Congress backs India’s demand for restoration of GSP scheme

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on September 18, 2019

US Congress members have written to USTR proposing an `early harvest’ approach to sort out immediate problems

India’s demand for restoration of the popular Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme for its exports to the American market is being backed by a number of members of the US Congress who have written to the US Trade Representative in favour of the move and have proposed a `early harvest’ approach to sort out immediate problems between the two countries.

“We also have a strong desire to see GSP eligibility for India reinstated. Should there be a progress in negotiations, we hope you will use the tools provided by the GSP statute as warranted, such as partial reinstatement,” a letter signed by 44 Congress members sent to USTR Robert Lighthizer on September 17 stated.

In June this year , US had made India ineligible for the GSP scheme, that allowed more than 3,000 items from India to be imported duty-free into the country. The withdrawal was based on complaints filed by the US medical equipment and dairy industries that alleged that India did not provide a level playing field for their businesses.

Suggesting ways to restore GSP benefits to India, the Congress members proposed an `early harvest’ approach that would ensure that long-sought market access gains for US industries are not held up by negotiations over remaining issues, thereby providing swift relief for both American exporters and importers.

“Just as US industries are harmed by lack of fair and reciprocal access to India’s market, American companies and workers also are harmed by new tariffs due to GSP termination. The costs are real for our constituents and growing every day. We urge you to continue negotiations and consider an early harvest to help American jobs that depend on two-way trade between the US and India,” the letter said.

The Congress members added that they took the complaints of the US industry seriously and shared the USTR’s strong desire to see them resolved. “We are encouraged to see continued engagement between the Administration and the newly elected Government of India that assumed office in late May, including visits by senior USTR and India officials over the summer,” the letter added.

India was the largest beneficiary of the GSP programme in 2017 with duty free status being given to $5.7 billion worth of imports into the US.

Published on September 18, 2019

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