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Updated: March 26, 2012 22:10 IST

U.S. asks India to lower tariff wall

Special Correspondent
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Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma (left) with U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson at a bilateral meeting in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
The Hindu
Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma (left) with U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson at a bilateral meeting in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

High tariff barriers on U.S. products can harm economic ties between India and the U.S. and prove detrimental to bilateral trade, visiting U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said here on Monday

Stating that import duties levied by India were ‘too high', he sought lowering of high duties to strengthen the ties between the two economies. Mr. John is here on a five-day official visit to India.

He specifically asked India to ease restrictions on imports of products such as medical equipment, fruits and capital goods.

“It would be a remiss, if I would not mention about the barriers which still exist in building our economic relationship. For example, there are many tariffs on American products that are still too high,'' he remarked at an interaction, organised by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), between the 16-member U.S. Infrastructure Mission and Indian business leaders.

Mr. Bryson said if India did not accept U.S. products and strategic investments, the progress together could slow down and in the long-term could cause meaningful harm. He also held a meeting with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who raised concerns over the high rate of visa rejections by the U.S. and levy of high visa fee. “There have been concerns over the high rate of visa rejections last year. There is a 28 per cent decline,'' Mr. Sharma said after the meeting.

Mr. Bryson, who will visit Jaipur and Mumbai, said capital goods such as power generation equipment faced a basic duty of 7.5 per cent and an effective rate of 22 per cent. Grapes, citrus and other fruits faced a 30 per cent duty. “India's sourcing provisions in sectors such as IT, electronics and solar energy are also tough. This makes it harder to invest in India, if India is not able to readily accept the U.S. products,'' he remarked.

He said India also needed to build on its effort to support more accountability, transparency and integrity in its commercial actions.

“India should join the Government Procurement Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Allow more competition by joining the WTO agreement on government procurement. This agreement has important provisions that support greater openness,'' he added.

On India's massive demand for infrastructure, he said both the countries could work together in sectors such as rail, road, aviation and energy. The U.S. had the largest road system in the world. American businesses were ready to help India improve energy transmission and distribution besides developing renewable energy and expanding road network,'' he added.

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