Government may extend deadline for imposition of higher duties on 29 US products

By: | Published: September 17, 2018 7:42 PM

The government will further extend the deadline for the imposition of higher customs duties on 29 products, including almond, walnut and pulses, imported from the US, a senior official said Monday.

The government will further extend the deadline for the imposition of higher customs duties on 29 products, including almond, walnut and pulses, imported from the US, a senior official said Monday. In June, India decided to impose retaliatory tariffs from August 4. But it was extended by another 45 days till September 18.

“We are still in discussion with the US authorities. The deadline will be extended tonight,” the government official said, adding that the deadline will be extended for another 45 days until November 2.

The duty hike move by India was in retaliation to the March 9 decision of US President Donald Trump to impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items, a move that has sparked fears of a global trade war.

Senior officials of India and the US are in discussions to finalise a kind of trade deal. Both the sides holding two track discussions — to increase trade in short and medium term, and identify long term trade potentials.

India is pressing for exemption from high duty imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), greater market access for its products from sectors, including agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.

As many as 3,500 Indian products from sectors such as chemicals and engineering get duty free access to the US market under the GSP, introduced in 1976.

On the other hand, the US is demanding greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, including medical devices. As part of imposition of higher import duties, New Delhi has notified higher tariffs on several products. While import duty on walnut is to be hiked to 120 per cent from 30 per cent, duty on chickpeas, Bengal gram (chana) and masur dal will be hiked to 70 per cent from 30 per cent. Levy on lentils will be hiked to 40 per cent from 30 per cent.

India had also dragged the US to the World Trade Organization’s (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. Exports to the US in 2016-17 stood at USD 42.21 billion, while imports were USD 22.3 billion.

Other products which would attract higher duties include boric acid, phosphoric acid, diagnostic reagent, flat rolled products of iron, certain flat rolled products of stainless steel.

India’s exports to the US in 2017-18 stood at USD 47.9 billion, while imports were USD 26.7 billion. The trade balance is in favour of India.

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