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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

‘India has long had a field day…’: Donald Trump’s new tweet attack over tariffs

President Trump, championing his ‘America First’ policy has been a vocal critic of India for levying “tremendously high” duties on US products, has described the country as a “tariff king”.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2019 21:31 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump during a speech in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 8, 2019. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
U.S. President Donald Trump during a speech in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 8, 2019. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)(REUTERS)

US President Donald Trump complained about Indian tariffs once again on Tuesday, raising the issue just days after discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June.

“India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products,” he wrote on Twitter. “No longer acceptable!”

It could not be immediately ascertained if he was setting up forthcoming punitive trade actions or was merely venting his frustration on an issue that has clearly been a major priority for him: trade, tariff and balance of trade. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a query on the context and reason for the tweet.

Trump used a variation of the post in a tweet while headed for Osaka. “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 This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!”

The president might be setting up an upcoming visit of two senior officials from the office of the US Trade Representative, the key trade negotiator for the United States, who are leaving for India for three days of talks, according to people familiar with these discussions.

Trump and Modi held detailed discussions on trade at Osaka and decided to let their respective ministers pick it up from there, with the American leader saying “big trade deals” could be announced.

India and the United States have been trying to sort out trade differences that have come to bedevil ties that have been on the upward trajectory in most other areas, especially defence exercises and trade, with India’s purchase orders for high-tech equipment fast-tracked like that of some close US allies such as Israel.

Just days after Prime Minister Modi started his second term, the Trump administration terminated special trade privileges for India, under the Generalized System of Preferences, citing India’s failure to open up its markets to US companies. New Delhi responded with retaliatory tariffs, that it had proposed in 2018 in response to US levies on steel and aluminium, but had kept in abeyance to allow for talks to continue.

Bilateral trade between India and the United States has been rising, going up to more than $142 billion in 2018, but President Trump has been focused on market access for US dairy and medical devices sectors and India’s trade surplus, which it has been able to cut through stepped-up oil and gas purchases and other imports.

First Published: Jul 09, 2019 18:45 IST

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