India may slap retaliatory tariffs on American goods ahead of Pompeo’s visit

New Delhi is preparing to respond against unfriendly US trade policies directed at it, by hiking levies on 29 American goods, in all worth up to $290 million, Indian media has reported, citing its sources.

The retaliatory measure may be implemented from June 16, according to the Economic Times daily newspaper. The tariffs are set to target walnuts, chickpeas, lentils, boric acid and diagnostic reagents, among other US products.

India has been threatening the US with retaliatory tariffs since last June, after the Trump administration slapped extra duties on the country’s steel and aluminum exports. However, New Delhi postponed introducing the response measure several times since then, citing ongoing trade negotiations with Washington.

“There will be no further extension of the retaliatory tariffs,” the Economic Times reported, citing an official familiar with the matter, who added that India’s commerce department and external affairs ministry support the decision. The Indian government has not officially announced the tariffs nor has it commented on the report, so far.

Apart from additional tariffs, US President Donald Trump annulled India’s trade benefits stipulated under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, starting June 5. Around $5.6 billion-worth of Indian products used to enjoy duty-free access to the American market annually under the GSP deal.

Washington maintains that New Delhi failed to provide American companies with “equitable and reasonable” access to local markets. At the same time the US has been seeking to narrow its $21-billion trade deficit with India while accusing the country of ‘unfair’ trade practices.

The possible introduction of tariffs by India may come shortly before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the country later this month.

“We hope that our friends in India will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness,” Pompeo said earlier this week, adding that Washington is still open to dialogue.

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