US President Donald Trump has said that India and China are no longer “developing nations” and were “taking advantage” of the tag from the WTO and asserted that he will not let it happen anymore.

Trump, championing his ‘America First’ policy, has been a vocal critic of India for levying “tremendously high” duties on US products and has described the country as a “tariff king”.

The US and China are currently engaged in a bruising trade war after Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese goods and Beijing retaliated.

Earlier in July, Donald Trump asked the World Trade Organisation to define how it designates developing-country status, a move apparently aimed at singling out countries like China, Turkey and India which are getting lenient treatment under the global trade rules.

In a memorandum, Donald Trump had empowered the US Trade Representative (USTR) to start taking punitive actions if any advanced economies are inappropriately taking benefits of the WTO loopholes.

Addressing a gathering at Pennsylvania on Tuesday, President Trump said India and China – the two economic giants from Asia – are no longer developing nations and as such, they cannot take the benefit from the WTO.

However, they are taking advantage of a developing nation tag from the WTO, putting the US to disadvantage, he said.

“They (India and China) were taking advantage of us for years and years,” Donald Trump said.

The Geneva-based WTO is an intergovernmental organisation that regulates international trade between nations.

Under the global trade rules, developing countries claim entitlement to a longer timeframe for the imposition of safeguards, generous transition periods, softer tariff cuts, procedural advantages for WTO disputes and the ability to avail themselves of certain export subsidies.

President Trump expressed hope that the WTO will treat the United States “fairly”.

He said the WTO views certain countries like China and India as “they’re growing”. “Well, they’ve grown,” he said and warned that the US will not let such countries to take advantage of the WTO.

“We’re not letting that happen anymore…Everybody is growing but us,” he said.

Earlier in June, US President Donald Trump had termed India’s decision to impose retaliatory tariffs as “unacceptable” and asked it to be withdrawn.

After extending the deadline for several times, India has imposed additional customs duties on 29 US products, including almond, walnut and pulses, with effect from June 16.

The government had on June 21, 2018, decided to impose these duties in retaliation to the US decision of significantly hiking customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products.

America had in March last year imposed 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent import duty on aluminium products. As India is one of the major exporters of these items to the US, the US decision has revenue implication of about $240 million on Indian steel and aluminium products.

India extended the deadline for imposition of these duties multiple times in the hope that some solution would emerge during a negotiation between India and the US on a proposed trade package.

But those negotiations came to a halt following the decision of the US to withdraw export incentives to Indian exporters under its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. These benefits were rolled back from June 5. It would impact goods worth $5.5 billion from India to America.

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.

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.

In June, Trump had also blamed big economies India, China and Russia for climate change stating that these countries do not have any sense of cleanliness and pollution. He further claimed that the United States has one of the “cleanest climates” in the world.

(With PTI inputs)