India — for an unprecedented seventh time — on Thursday postponed the proposed higher tariffs on high-value goods from Washington, with tariff-free access to the United States (US) markets at stake.
Officials said the government decided to extend the deadline one last time as it awaits a final confirmation from the US on whether it would formally discontinue all tariff benefits to India under its largest preferential trade scheme, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
The government is hoping for a change in the US’ stand on the GSP next week when US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross visits New Delhi.
In March, the US trade representative’s (USTR’s) office notified the US Congress and New Delhi that Indian exports did not qualify for GSP benefits under their updated eligibility criteria. But according to USTR guidelines, the changes generally take effect in about 60 days after the notifications, or around May 1. A final Presidential proclamation seals the move, something the White House still hasn’t done.
India is the largest beneficiary nation under the GSP, having exported goods worth $5.6 billion to the US in 2017-18.
During Ross’ visit from Monday to Wednesday (May 6-8), the US Department of Commerce would host its largest annual trade mission, the 11th Trade Winds Business Forum and Mission, from May 6-13. He is expected to discuss a mutually acceptable trade package that has been derailed by repeated threats of high counter-tariffs on Indian goods by US President Donald Trump, officials added.
The package has been in the works for the past one year and trade officials have met as many as six times to hammer out a deal that provides an amicable solution to grouses from both sides. India is considering dismantling its current price cap regime for coronary stents with a trade margin policy, while it may also allow lower duties on import of certain information and communication technologies products such as high-end mobile phone and smartwatches from the US.
Originally set to go live from June 28, 2018, the tariffs have repeatedly been postponed by the government.