Trump again goes after India on trade, says it slaps ‘big tariffs’ on American products


PTI, Apr 29, 2019, 3:12 PM IST

Washington: President Donald Trump has criticised India’s “big tariffs” on American paper products and the iconic Harley-Davidson bikes, saying the US has been losing billions of dollars to countries like India, China and Japan.

Addressing a Republican political rally in Wisconsin state’s Green Bay city on Sunday, Trump alleged that every country has been ripping off America for years. The President has repeatedly claimed that India is a “tariff king” and imposes “tremendously high” tariffs on American products.

“For so many decades we’ve been losing tens of billions of dollars to China and Japan, and India, and name any country and we lost, but we’re not losing anymore,” he said to his cheering supporters. He said that the US was being charged high tariffs on foreign paper products.

“We charge other countries zero tariffs on foreign paper products, but when Wisconsin paper companies export it abroad… China charged us big tariffs, India charged us big tariffs, Vietnam charge us massive tariffs,” Trump said.

He claimed that people of the US demanded a government that puts America first. “And we’re doing that with China, we’re doing that with India, we’re doing that with Japan, we’re doing it with a great new trade deal, that hopefully will get approved in the house,” the President said.

Early this year at a White House event to announce his support for reciprocal tax, Trump had said that he was satisfied with the Indian decision to reduce the import tariff on high-end Harley-Davidson motorcycles from 100 per cent to 50 per cent.

The President said that he called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

“Look at Harley-Davidson. I met with them three years ago, they would tell me tough to do business in certain kind. I asked ‘How you’re doing in India?’ and they said, ‘Oh, we don’t do any business’. They weren’t even complaining because so many years.

“So India charged a 100 per cent tariff on Harley-Davidson, but when they send their motorcycles and they may come to us, we charge them nothing,” Trump said.

“So I called up Prime Minister Modi, I said unfair, he cut it 50 per cent… But that’s not good enough because look, it’s 50 per cent to nothing. And what we’re doing is changing all of that stuff, changing all of that rapidly,” he added.

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

On the other hand, the US is demanding greater market access through a cut in import duties for its agriculture goods, dairy products, medical devices, IT and communication items. India has stated that it would be difficult for them to cut duties on IT products.

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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