US President Donald Trump declared plans on Monday to end special trade treatment for India, accusing it of unfairly shutting out American businesses recently.
In a letter to Congress, Trump made his intent clear to remove India from a program that gives developing countries easier access to US markets for trade and dealings. The Indian government “has not assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India,” the letter reported.
The notice comes just weeks before before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces a general election for his re-election tenure.
Trump has repeatedly slammed Indian duties on US goods. In January, he took aim at India’s 150% tariff on imported whiskey. Over the weekend, he blasted India as a “high-tariff” country and was annoyed at India’s schemes.
Last April, the US government said it would review India’s eligibility in the program after some American companies said their dairy and medical device shipments to India were being hurt by non-tariff barriers.
Now, he’s moving to take India out of the preferential trade program, known as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which lowers US duties on exports from 121 developing countries. India was the biggest beneficiary of the program in 2017, according to US data, with exemptions on goods worth $5.6 billion.
Indian Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said Tuesday that the total benefit to India from the exemptions amounted to only about $190 million a year, describing them as “minimal and moderate.”
India was one of many countries hit by US steel and aluminum tariffs last year. In retaliation, the Indian government announced its own tariffs on US goods worth $240 million, but it has yet to actually put them into effect.