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US move ‘unfortunate’, says India as Donald Trump terminates preferential trade status

In a major White House declaration, US President Donald Trump on Friday said the designation of India as a beneficiary developing country is terminated, effective June 5.

SNS | New Delhi |

Hours after US President Donald Trump announced the termination of India’s preferential trade status, effective June 5, this year, the Central government said India had “offered resolution on significant US requests in an effort to find a mutually acceptable way forward” adding that it was “unfortunate” that this did not find acceptance by the US.

“India, like the US and other nations shall always uphold its national interest in these matters. We have significant development imperatives and concerns and our people also aspire for better standards of living. This will remain the guiding factor in the Government’s approach,” a statement released by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry said.

Denying that the decision will have a major impact on India-US ties, the government said it views the issue as a part of regular process and will continue to build strong ties with the US, both economic and people-to-people.

“We are confident that the two Nations will continue to work together intensively for further growing these ties in a mutually beneficial manner,” the statement said.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sources had earlier said the government will continue to talk to the US during the 60-day period. They said that efforts were being made to find a reasonable package and said the problem was not systemic.

In a major White House declaration, US President Donald Trump on Friday said the designation of India as a beneficiary developing country under a key trade preference programme is terminated, effective June 5, this year.

He said India has not assured the US that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets.

“I have determined that India has not assured the US that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets. Accordingly, it is appropriate to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country effective June 5, 2019,” Trump said in a proclamation on Friday, ignoring the plea made by several top American lawmakers as it will cost American businesses over $300 million in additional tariffs every year.

The Generalized System of Preference (GSP) is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme and is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.

The GSP criteria include, among others, respecting arbitral awards in favour of US citizens or corporations, combating child labour, respecting internationally recognised worker rights, providing adequate and effective intellectual property protection and providing the US with equitable and reasonable market access.

India was the largest beneficiary of the programme in 2017 with $5.7 billion in imports to the US given duty-free status, according to a Congressional Research Service report in January.

Claiming that New Delhi had failed to assure America that it would provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors, US President Donald Trump had in March informed the US Congress about his intent to terminate the designation of India and Turkey as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.

Earlier on Wednesday, a US official had said that the decision to evict India from a key trade pact is a “done deal”.

The US move could be seen as a major setback for the newly formed government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.