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Ahead of meeting with Modi, Trump asks India to withdraw high duties

Washington is also upset with New Delhi's plans to restrict cross-border data flows

US President Donald Trump said the tariff hike by India on certain US products was unacceptable. Photo: Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump said the tariff hike by India on certain US products was unacceptable. Photo: Bloomberg

Neha Dasgupta | Reuters New Delhi
US President Donald Trump on Thursday demanded India withdraw retaliatory tariffs imposed by New Delhi this month, calling the duties “unacceptable” in a stern message that signals trade ties between the two countries are fast deteriorating.
 
India slapped higher duties on 28 US products after the United States withdrew tariff-free entry for certain Indian goods.

Washington is also upset with New Delhi’s plans to restrict cross-border data flows and impose stricter rules on e-commerce that hurt US firms operating in India.
 
“I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the tariffs even further,” Trump said on Twitter.
 
“This is unacceptable and the tariffs must be withdrawn!” said Trump, who will meet Modi at this week’s G20 summit in Japan.
 
Government sources rejected Trump’s argument, saying Indian tariffs were not that high compared to other developing countries and US tariffs on some items were much higher. India's trade ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters email seeking comment.
 
Trump’s tweet came hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left New Delhi after meeting Modi. Pompeo had said the nations were "friends who can help each other all around the world" and the current differences were expressed "in the spirit of friendship".
 
In one tweet, though, Trump may have badly undermined Pompeo's efforts to reduce friction between the two countries. 
Trump in May scrapped trade privileges for India under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), under which New Delhi was the biggest beneficiary that allowed duty-free exports of up to $5.6 billion. 
 
India initially issued an order in June last year to raise import taxes as high as 120 per cent on a slew of US items, incensed by Washington’s refusal to exempt it from higher steel and aluminium tariffs.

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First Published: Jun 28 2019 | 1:38 AM IST

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