by Pankaj Yadav
NEW DELHI, June 22 (Xinhua) -- India has decided to accept upfront the duty tariffs challenge thrown by U.S. President Donald Trump, by imposing additional custom duties up to 50 percent on as many as 29 goods imported from the United States.
The new custom duties will come into effect from Aug. 4, if the current standoff prevails.
The additional customs duties would bring in an extra revenue of 240 million U.S. dollars for India. New Delhi went in for the tit-for-tat in retaliation to the U.S. decision to raise duty on certain steel and aluminium products that had a tariff implication of 241 million U.S. dollars for India.
The latest in the tug-of-war situation is that a U.S. trade delegation is scheduled to visit India next week to hold parleys with their counterparts to resolve the issues.
A leading English daily "Business Line" quoted a government official as saying that "a team of trade officials from the U.S. led by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mark Linscott will be in New Delhi on June 26 to discuss trade concerns with Indian officials. We hope to persuade the team to withdraw the additional duties on steel and aluminium applied on Indian import applied on grounds of national security as India does not pose any threat to the U.S."
In case the talks fail and Washington remains adamant on imposing the custom duties on India's steel and aluminium, New Delhi will too go ahead with levying the additional duties on as many as 29 items imported from the United States on Aug. 4, as a retaliatory measure.
Under India's latest proposed changes, U.S. almonds and walnuts will attract 100 percent duty, while pulses such as chickpeas and Bengal gram will be subject to 60 percent tariff and a 50 percent tax will be levied on apples.
Meanwhile, situation in India seems to be under control, and will be least affected by dip in imports from the United States. According to industry insiders, India will not be affected in terms of stocks of items imported from the United States. Imports of Bengal gram were already negligible due to huge domestic stocks, high tariffs and low prices. India imports 85 percent of Bengal gram from Australia, while the United States accounts for only 1.4 percent.
Canada accounts for 90 percent of India's "masur" (lentil) imports, while those coming from the United States is only 7.4 percent of total masur imports.
India's move of imposing additional custom duty is also an attempt to protect domestic farmers' interests. An English daily The Economic Times reported: "At a time when the U.S. has a bumper crop of lentils that it grows specifically for the Indian market, New Delhi has imposed an additional 10 percent duty to protect its market from oversupply and a price push down since domestic farmers too have a reasonably good crop this time."
It quoted Deloitte India's M.S. Mani as saying that the list of products where the custom duties have been increased appear to be carefully calibrated and cover both agricultural and industrial products relevant to Indo-U.S. trade.