India is engaged with the US in “working out” issues arising from the latter’s protectionist measures last month of raising duties on steel and aluminium imports, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Tuesday.
US Assistant Trade Representative (USTR) Mark Limscott was here for talks last week providing India the first opportunity to put across its case for an exemption along the lines of the ones the US has allowed to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea, as also the European Union.
“We are working with the US to address the trade issues…they are among our most important trading partners,” Prabhu told reporters here without revealing more about the talks with the Limscott.
He was replying to questions at the launch of the Federation of Indian Exporters Organisation’s (FIEO) ‘Globalinker’ platform for small and medium exporters to digitise and link their businesses to the global marketplace.
Noting that India’s largest trade surplus was with the US, Prabhu said that India enjoys a “special relationship with the US, not just restricted to trade, but that is multi-dimensional and strategic”.
“We’re in control of the situation. Anyway, we’re not a significant exporter of steel or aluminium to the US. The more important issue with them is on our exports of medical devices,” he added.
US President Donald Trump slapped import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium in March. China retaliated earlier this month, increasing tariffs by up to 25 per cent on 128 US products, from frozen pork and wine to certain fruits and nuts.
Indian industry chamber Assocham has said that an annual trade deficit of $150 billion with the US alone does not allow India room to retaliate in the event of a global trade war since the country’s imports are mostly of an essential nature.