India, US officials to discuss trade issues on June 26-27

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NEW DELHI: Issues pertaining to duty hike by America on steel and aluminium, review of export benefits to certain domestic products and visa tightening norms will come up at the meeting between senior officials of India and the US here next week.

The meeting, on June 26-27, assumes a greater significance as India on Thursday announced the decision to raise customs duties on as many as 29 products including pulses as well as iron and steel products imported from the US as a retaliatory action against the tariff hikes by Washington.

These duties on US goods will take effect from August 4.

The decision to impose these taxes in August may give time to the US to take a considered view on all the contentious bilateral trade issues with India.

According to sources, both the sides could also deliberate on their disputes at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

India and the US are fighting cases related to sectors including steel and aluminium, export subsidies and solar cells.

India has time and again raised concerns over negative impact of tightening of visa norms by the US on Indian IT sector. It has also asked America to continue extending duty free access under Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to its 3,500 products such as chemicals and engineering.

It also wants exemption from the hike in import duty on certain steel and aluminium items.

On the other hand, the US has raised concerns on issues, including high duties on dairy products and motor cycle, Harley-Davidson. It has also flagged issues on prices of medical devices in India.

With the United States adopting protectionist policies and hiking import duties, a trade war like situation has emerged.

As per the finance ministry notification, the import duty on chickpeas, Bengal gram (chana) and masur dal has been increased to 70 per cent from 30 per cent earlier, while that on lentils has been hiked to 40 per cent from 30 per cent.

However, the government has not hiked duties on on motor cycle with engine capacity of over 800cc, which includes Harley Davidson bikes.

India has also dragged the US to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism over the imposition of import duties on steel and aluminium.

India exports steel and aluminium products worth about USD 1.5 billion to the US every year.

India’s exports to the US in 2016-17 stood at USD 42.21 billion, while imports were USD 22.3 billion. The trade balance is highly in favour of India.