India set to levy higher tariffs on some USA goods next week

New Delhi has since been postponing implementation of these duties hoping to resolve trade concerns, including the proposed withdrawal of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) by the US.

India is preparing to impose higher tariffs on some U.S. goods including almonds, walnuts and apples next week after a delay of about a year, two sources said, following Washington's withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi. The Commerce & Industry Ministry, which has proposed imposition of the retaliatory tariffs, has already got the approval of the Ministry of External Affairs for the imposition.

The Generalized System of Preference (GSP) is the largest and oldest United States trade preference programme and is created to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.

India had repeatedly postponed the imposition of retaliatory tariffs of $235 million on import of U.S. goods worth $1.4 billion since they were first announced on June 20, 2018.

India is by far the largest buyer of US almonds, paying $543 million for more than half of US almond exports in 2018, US Department of Agriculture data shows. "Trump wants market access in India and he will not stop at the withdrawal of GSP benefits". "India had to respond to the United States steps".

India's exports to the USA in 2017-18 stood at Dollars 47.9 billion, while imports were at USD 26.7 billion.

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit New Delhi on June 25-26, on his way to the G20 Summit, to hold bilateral discussions with his Indian counterpart, external affairs minister S Jaishankar.

Dates for Pompeo's visit have not been officially announced, but it could reportedly happen ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first meeting with Trump in more than two years, on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Japan later this month.

On March 4, Trump announced that the USA intends to terminate India's designations as a beneficiary developing country under the GSP programme.

"We hope that our friends in India will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness", Pompeo said earlier this week, adding that Washington is still open to dialogue. "We believe we can be export-competitive at our own strength or at the strength of our own comparative advantage".

However, the USA had deferred the withdrawal of the GSP because the Indian general elections were underway. The increase in import duties will be effective from June 16.

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