India weighs retaliatory tariffs on US imports worth $10.6 billion
The next deadline for the tariffs to kick in is 1 April.
“We are weighing all our options. The retaliatory tariffs may kick in either after the current deadline ends or before that. We are reserving our right to drag the US to the WTO (World Trade Organization) as the GSP (generalized system of preferences) withdrawal violates the principle of non-discrimination," an Indian commerce ministry official said, on condition of anonymity.
“India has implemented a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on United States commerce. Despite intensive engagement, India has failed to take the necessary steps to meet the GSP criterion," the office of USTR said in a statement late on Monday.
During the recently concluded Trade Policy Forum talks, US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross had also raised concerns regarding new trade barriers created by India, hinting at the stringent e-commerce rules that have affected US companies, including Amazon.com Inc. and Flipkart owner Walmart Inc.
India’s commerce secretary, Anup Wadhawan, in a hurriedly-called press briefing, said that disproportionate demands from the US led to the collapse of talks, although India was ready to offer the US greater market access in agricultural products.
Wadhawan said the US brought new issues to the negotiating table, apart from medical devices and dairy products on a “self-initiated basis".
These include issues related to market access for various agriculture, animal husbandry and, information and communications technology products, including mobile phones.
“India was able to offer a very meaningful way forward on almost all the US requests. In a few instances, specific US requests were not found reasonable and doable at this time by the departments concerned, in light of public welfare concerns reflective of India’s developing country status and its national interest," Wadhawan said.
An official in the ministry of external affairs said on condition of anonymity that India would continue to work with the US to find a solution as there are 60 days left.
“We have been pointing out to them that US exports to India have gone up by 30% in the past year and this has come in a globally depressed market. Oil and gas imports from the US are increasing," he added.
Former trade secretary Rajeev Kher said India should not subordinate its policymaking to a third country. “The US can’t bully us into adopting an e-commerce policy, which is contrary to our interest, if that is the objective. Our exporters need to be more competitive in any case," he added.
Mint's Elizabeth Roche in New Delhi contributed to this story.