Trade war: India extends retaliatory tariff deadline on US products till June 16

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As Washington delays GSP decision, New Delhi is looking at pushing back tariffs by a month

The government on Tuesday extended the deadline to impose retaliatory import tariffs on 29 US products till June 16.

A Finance Ministry notification said the duties, which were to come into effect from May 16, have been postponed by a month.

The move comes as New Delhi hopes to sort out trade issues with Washington after the general elections are over and a new government is in place. The duties, which were to come into effect from May 16, are now likely to be applicable from mid-June.

“The Commerce Department is recommending to the Finance Ministry that the retaliatory duties against the US should be put off further by a month. This is being done taking into account the fact that the US has not yet withdrawn the Generalised System of Preferences schemes for India,” a government official told BusinessLine.

The Finance Ministry had issued a notification earlier this month postponing the date of imposing retaliatory duties on the US from May 2 to May 16.

Also read: India needs to rework its US strategy

India had announced retaliatory tariffs worth $230 million on about 29 American goods in June last year in response to imposition of penal tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium from the country by the US.

New Delhi has since been postponing implementation of these duties hoping to resolve trade concerns, including the proposed withdrawal of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) by the US. The GSP offered duty-free access to the American market for more than 3,000 items from India.

“The US was supposed to withdraw the GSP in the beginning of May. Since it did not happen, India postponed the retaliatory duty till May 16 hoping that it would be clear by then what was playing on the US’ mind. During US Secretary for Commerce Wilbur Ross’ visit last week, it became clear that Washington did not want to withdraw the GSP scheme till it gave an opportunity to the new government formed after the general elections to sort out its concerns. That is why India is planning to postpone the retaliatory duties till the mid of next month,” the official explained.

While the US seems to be dilly-dallying on GSP withdrawal, it has not given any indication yet on whether it was willing to take back the penal duties imposed on Indian steel and aluminium.

The US wants India to address the price cap issue for medical devices, provide greater market access for dairy and agricultural products and also reduce high import tariffs for mobile phones.

In 2018, bilateral trade in goods and services registered a growth of 12.6 per cent to $142 billion, from $126 billion in 2017.