NEW DELHI: The Congress said on Saturday that the US government's proclamation to terminate the status of India as a 'beneficiary developing country' has grave trade and economic implications and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a comprehensive statement on the issue.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: "The US government's proclamation terminating the status of India as 'Beneficiary Developing Country' i.e the 'Special Trade Status' with effect from June 5, 2019 has grave trade and economic implications for India." He said it directly affects India's exports worth $54.4 billion equivalent to Rs 3,80,800 crore.
The Congress leader pointed out that the 'Special Trade Status' was availed by India on November 24, 1975, when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister and it has now been withdrawn after 44 years. Surjewala said: "This directly affects 16 per cent of India's exports."
He said India exports commodities like jewellery, precious stones and diamonds worth $11 billion, agricultural products worth $2.7 billion, auto parts worth $1.2 billion, pharmaceuticals worth $ 6.3 billion and others worth $33.2 billion.
The Congress leader said that the US is India's largest export partner and India's exports will consequently be hit adversely thereby further causing a job crisis.
"Already, unemployment is at a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent (NSSO) and the GDP growth has slumped to a 5-year low to 5.8 per cent. At this juncture, withdrawal of the Special Trade Status by the US is double whammy," he said.
Targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre, Surjewala said: "On one hand, Indian government has decided to yield to pressure and stop purchasing crude oil of 23.5 million tonnes annually from Iran at favourable terms and on the other hand, 'Special Trade Status' for India has been withdrawn by the country to whom our export volume is the largest."
"What is of more concern is the fact that the withdrawal of 'Special Trade Status' was notified to India on March 4 itself. Yet the government did nothing to pre-empt it," he said.
Surjewala said that the most serious implication would be for sectors like agriculture, auto parts and pharmaceuticals, which are already facing a serious crisis.
He said in future, we could see many more industries including services industry, which has more than $28 billion under exports to the US, being affected significantly.
"We urge upon the Prime Minister to make a comprehensive statement on the issue to the nation and place before the public a way forward to overcome this grave trade and economic crisis," Surjewala added.