While the trade war with China rages, United States President Donald Trump has decided to focus on another trade agreement and this time he has turned his gaze at the preferential trade agreement with India, another giant economy in Asia. On Monday, the US President stated that preferential trade agreement is going to be ended for India since it is not in the US’ best interests. For decades, India has enjoyed being exporting products to the US to the tune of $5.6 billion per year without paying any duties. This move is directed at ending asymmetrical trade with India and remains a part of Donald Trump’s larger promise of substantially curbing the country’s trade deficits.
In a letter to the leaders of the United States Congress, Trump stated, “I am taking this step because, after intensive engagement between the United States and the government of India, I have determined that India has not assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India.” A copy of that letter has been sent to the Government of India as well, and the measures could go into effect in 60 days.
The entire issue is related to India being part of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme that gives preference to certain developing countries. The US believes that high tariffs imposed by India on US products and regulation that has hurt US companies have made the whole thing untenable. It is believed that one of the biggest reasons behind this move is the new regulatory measures for e-commerce companies that were imposed by India, earlier this year. Those measures adversely affected the businesses of Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart. Both companies have invested billions in the country, and the sudden change in the ground rules has not been taken kindly.
The being said, the Government of India is not perturbed at all regarding the move, and a source inside the government told Reuters that the ‘actual benefit’ received by the country stands at around $250 million. It is not a particularly large amount in the large scheme of things; however, the source did add that he hoped that this does not lead to barriers to trade with the US. Considering the fact that India is going to have its elections this year; it would be interesting to see if New Delhi retaliates in any way to this move from Trump.