India has informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it will impose tariffs on thirty items that it currently imports from the United States of America, following the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium products that the US has already raised rates on, an impact that is felt by India as well. This list is an increase of ten items from a similar list submitted back in May, 2018, which now includes apples, almonds, phosphoric acid and even Harley Davidson motorcycles (motorcycles with engine output in excess of 800cc). These tariffs are in direct retaliation to the tariffs imposed on steel and aluminium, as the letter to the WTO indicated. The timing of this submission is curious as it comes amid statements made on both sides of the India-US trade relationship that is currently trying to strengthen ties. India still invites the US to come to the table to work out any differences in an amicable and mutually-beneficial manner.
Following a two-day visit to the US, during which time he had discussions with his counterparts in that country, Trade Minister Suresh Prabhu said that his meetings requesting a favourable solution to all stake holders would come to fruition in the near future as both sides seemed more than willing to arrive at a favourable position with regard to trade between them. Currently, India exports about 3,500 items to the US, with an estimated worth of less than 6 billion dollars. In contrast, the retaliatory tariffs would only add 240 million dollars in terms of earnings to the country’s coffers. The risk associated with losing favour with the US on other matters such as technology sharing and preferred nation status is seen to be too great to warrant the imposing of these tariffs.