Ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan, US President Donald Trump Thursday demanded the withdrawal of trade tariffs by New Delhi, calling them “unacceptable.”
Trump is known to make comments on India’s tariff barriers in his speeches, and has even referred to India as “tariff king”. India slapped higher duties on 28 US products this month after Washington withdrew the long-standing trade privileges for New Delhi under the Generalized System of Preferences on June 1.
“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. This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!” President Trump’s tweet read.
Trump and Modi are scheduled to hold a bilateral summit Friday in Osaka.
Follow live updates on G-20 summit
Quoting government sources, news agency Reuters reported that India rejected Trump’s argument, saying the tariffs were not that high compared to other developing countries.
Trump’s tweet comes 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”.
While tariff barriers have been a sore point for the Trump administration, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Wednesday quoted Pompeo as saying that there has been a lot of “noise”, and the two sides need to go to the basics. “My confidence is reaffirmed about our ability to address (the issues). I am reassured about the solidity of the relationship,” he said.
Exports of 1,900 products to now face duties burden
India has been a beneficiary of the US’ GSP programme since November 1975, under which beneficiary countries are allowed to export thousands of products to the US without the added burden of duties. As exports under GSP accounted for over 11 per cent of India’s total goods exports of .4 billion to the US in 2018, the withdrawal could affect India’s competitiveness in exports of 1,900 items, including organic chemical raw materials, iron, steel, furniture, aluminium and electrical machinery, as duties will now be levied on these products.
The US Secretary of State also said the two sides need to work on these issues with “as little theatre as possible”. “We have to get the economic piece right. Great friends are bound to have disagreements,” Pompeo said, downplaying concerns.
India has raised tariffs on 28 items, including almond, pulses and walnut, exported from the US in retaliation to America’s withdrawal of preferential access for Indian products.