India strikes back after US trade move

By Country News

India will impose higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 products from the United States, including almonds, apples and walnuts following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.

The new duties take effect from Sunday, a government notification says, in the latest trade row since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017 vowing to act against countries with which Washington has a large trade deficit.

From June 5, President Trump scrapped trade privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for India, the biggest beneficiary of a scheme that allowed duty-free exports of up to $US5.6billion ($A8.1billion).

India termed that ‘‘unfortunate’’ and vowed to uphold its national interests.

India initially issued an order in June last year to raise import taxes as high as 120 per cent on a slew of items from the US, incensed by Washington’s refusal to exempt it from higher steel and aluminium tariffs.

But New Delhi repeatedly delayed raising tariffs as the two nations engaged in trade talks. Trade between them stood about $US142.1billion ($A206.7billion) in 2018.

India on Saturday amended its previous order ‘‘to implement the imposition of retaliatory duties on 28 specified goods originating in or exported from USA’’ while preserving the existing rate for these goods for all other countries, the government notification said.

India is by far the largest buyer of American almonds, paying $US543million ($A790million) for more than half of almond exports from the US in 2018, US Department of Agriculture data shows.

It is the second-largest buyer of US apples, taking $US156million ($A227million) worth in 2018.

New Delhi’s new rules in areas such as e-commerce and data localisation have already angered the US and hit companies such as Amazon, Walmart, Mastercard and Visa, among others.