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US Congress asks for restoration of India’s trade concessions post Modi-Trump meeting

US Congress has urged trade representative Robert Lightizer for renewal of trade concessions to India. The country removed India from the GSP program.

The forty four-membered US Congress has urged President Trump’s trade representative for renewal of trade concessions to India. Earlier, the withdrawal of the tax priveledges has led to retaliatory tariffs from New Delhi which has been affecting the US industry.

The US had ended its preferential trade treatment for India in the month of June. The country removed India from the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) program that permitted the duty-free entry of goods worth $5.6 billion to the United States. The exclusion of GSP had brought higher retaliatory tariffs from new Delhi on twenty-eight US exports including apples, almonds, and walnuts.

Post the Trump administration’s decision to eliminate trade privileges from Indian products under GSP; the two nations trade negotiators met in July. They, however, failed to make any significant advancement on the issue of tariffs and some other protectionist measures imposed by both the parties.

What’s in the letter?

The members of the Congress stated in the letter addressed to Robert Lightizer, the US Trade Representative,

“Just as US industries are harmed by lack of fair and reciprocal access to India’s market, American companies and workers also are harmed by new tariffs due to the GSP termination.”

A vast number of American jobs depend on the trade between the US & India, US lawmakers stated in a letter seen by Reuters. The letter comes days after Donald Trump and PM Modi’s meeting.

Both the sides had resumed their trade talks after President Trump and PM Modi met on the sidelines of the G20 summit held in June and agreed to seek to develop the relationship between the two countries.

Almonds & apples

Other than seeking the elimination of Indian tariffs imposed on products like almonds and apples, Washington has also expressed about its concerns related to India’s strictness of regulations that have undermined major US giants like Walmart’s Flipkart and Amazon.

India is the biggest buyer of US almonds, paying an amount of $543 million which is more than half of US almond exports in 2018, under the US Department of Agriculture. It stands at the second position as US apple importer, paying $156 million in 2018.

President Trump will be traveling to Houston, Texas on 22nd September to participate in an event with PM Modi and to discuss various ways to strengthen their energy and trade relationship. Modi will be visiting Houston to partake in an event named “Howdy Modi! Shared Dreams, Bright Futures,” at the NRG Stadium which is expected to attract around 10,000 people.