Donald Trump demands withdrawal of India’s ‘unacceptable’ tariff hike

U.S. President says he will hold talks with Prime Minister Modi in Osaka at G-20 summit

June 27, 2019 09:35 am | Updated 11:27 pm IST - Washington

Donald Trump in this file photo.

Donald Trump in this file photo.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s “high tariffs” on American products, which are “unacceptable”.

“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. This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!” Mr. Trump tweeted on Wednesday night Washington DC time, en route to Osaka in Japan for the G-20 meetings.

He was referring to the tariffs India had levied on 28 goods, starting June 16. The list, which included walnuts, pulses and almonds, were in retaliation for the March 2018 tariffs the Trump administration had levied — ostensibly on national security grounds — on steel and aluminium from a number of countries, including India.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who was in New Delhi this week, discussed trade with his counterpart, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

Mr. Modi is expected to meet Mr. Trump at a bilateral at 9.35 a.m. local time in Osaka on Friday morning, prior to which he will hold a trilateral with Mr. Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Reciprocal trade

On Thursday morning, the White House issued a statement on the G-20, which talked about Mr. Trump’s intent to achieve “fair and reciprocal trade”.

“President Trump will encourage our allies and partners to lower tariff and non-tariff barriers to free, fair, and reciprocal trade,” the statement read.

The White House also referred to “the free flow of data” — curbs on taking data outside border, or ‘data localisation’ is one of the trade issues on the table for India and the U.S., with India having initiated policies for data localisation. “The United States urges members of the G-20 to work together to advance an open, fair, market-based digital economy, which will benefit all our nations through the free flow of data,” the statement said.

On the world trading system, the statement said: “The United States is urging reforms and modernisations to the World Trade Organization (WTO), while making sure the WTO functions as originally intended.”

Interestingly, the U.S. is seen by critics as crippling the ability of the WTO to execute a crucial aspect of its mandate, by blocking the appointment of judges to the WTO’s Appellate Body (trade court). Without the statutorily mandated number of judges to hear cases (three or more), the trade court will become non-functional for all practical purposes at the end of this year, if the U.S. does not allow new nominees to go through.

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