NEW DELHI: Ahead of a crucial summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday in Osaka, US President Donald Trump tweeted demanding that a punitive hike in tariff which India had imposed on 28 US exports in a tit-for-tat trade war be withdrawn as it was “unacceptable.
Trump tweeted that he was looking forward to speaking 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 This is unacceptable and the tariffs must be withdrawn!”
The US President piled on pressure on India after talks between his Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and his Indian counterpart not only did not yield any compromise solutions, but also saw India’s Reserve bank reiterating that plans to locally store net-based payment data, an issue which has riled US Government and multinationals such as Google, Visa and Mastercard.
Top Commerce Ministry officials said that India’s duty hikes were within WTO bound rates or the maximum rates which the world trade body allowed its members to levy on imports. However, the officials added that “trade talks are all about give and take. We are open to compromises.”
Said Prof. Biswajit Dhar of JNU, a trade expert “Trump is a difficult man to satisfy. One summit may not resolve our trade dispute, but some headway may be made.”
Effective June 5, the United States has unilaterally scrapped duty-free export facility to over 2,000 product categories from India, which retaliated earlier this month by raising duties on 28 US exports including almonds and Washington apples.
Even before that, the rumblings of a trade dispute had been present with Trump repeatedly complaining of India’s high duties on US automobiles, agricultural products, wines, processed food and telecom and IT products.
The US has also taken up India’s e-commerce rules which it considers discriminatory, its plans to store payment data locally instead of allowing them to be shipped to servers in the US as well as gone to the WTO seeking explanations on India’s subsidies to its farmers.