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India Mulls Retaliating to US' Removal of Trading Privileges - Trade Body

Last Month, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross warned New Delhi against imposing retaliatory tariffs following Washington's planned withdrawal of trade privileges for India.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Days after India vowed to uphold national interests amid a rift with the the US over trade privileges, India's major trade body has claimed the government is firmly planning to counter the Trump administration's decision to withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) on Indian goods by imposing retaliatory tariffs from the coming month.

President Donald Trump last Friday ordered the Treasury to disband the preferential trading regime with India which had granted the Asian country trade preferences under a 1975 agreement recognising India as a beneficiary developing country. The new status will come into effect from 5 June.

READ MORE: India Vows to Uphold 'National Interests' Amid Rift With US Over Trade Status

"India might counter the US decision to withdraw GSP on its exports by imposing retaliatory tariffs from the coming month. The Industry estimates, this move will impose an additional burden of $290 million per year on US items exported to India," Mohit Singla, chairman of the Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI), said.

India has been extending the date to impose a retaliatory tariffs on twenty-nine items imported from the US, including walnuts, lentils, boric acid and diagnostic reagents, among others that will face higher duties.    

Indian residents photograph India's tallest flag as it is unveiled in Faridabad on the outskirts of New Delhi on March 3, 2015 - Sputnik International
India Downplays Trump's Intent to Withdraw Trade Benefits
The trade body claimed that the US withdrawal of GSP status is only going to inject the estimated, additional burden of $190 million, which is miniscule compared to India's total exports to the US "even the US was benefiting from the GSP regime, since the intermediary inputs provided by India helped keep its industry competitive".

READ MORE:India Postpones Retaliatory Tariffs on 29 Products, Days After US Threat

India was the largest beneficiary of the GSP programme in 2017 with $5.7 billion in imports to the US given duty-free status. India's top exports to the US under the GSP in 2017 included motor vehicle parts, ferro alloys, precious metal jewellery, building stone, insulated cables, leather products, garment (marginal) and wires.

President Trump had repeatedly pressured New Delhi to open its markets to US trade to close the deficit, which is around $27.3 billion, and protested the country's protectionist tariff policies, including recently re-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make In India' project.    

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