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19 Sep, 2019 15:07

India says it meets ‘developing country’ criteria in bid to reclaim US trade concessions

India says it meets ‘developing country’ criteria in bid to reclaim US trade concessions

India’s foreign secretary says his country meets the criteria for a developing country, calling on Washington to backtrack on its decision to withdraw trade concessions.

Generalized System of Preferences [GSP] is a unilateral decision, given by countries to other countries based on certain criteria. We are a developing country, we meet those criteria,” Vijay Gokhale said at a media briefing on Thursday. He also urged Washington to review the matter, emphasizing the importance of trade concessions with the US for Indian industry.

The US unilaterally withdrew that concession from us, we believe that GSP is something which is important for our industry but ultimately it is a matter for the US to take a call on,” he said.

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The GSP is the largest US trade preference program, aimed at promoting economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from beneficiary countries.

In June, the Trump administration terminated India’s designation within the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) as a developing nation, denying it all the concessions the status provided, like zero tariff entry on some imports. This move closed the door for up to $5.6 billion worth of annual exports to the United States, with Washington citing a lack of reciprocal market access as the basis for the measure. Prior to its withdrawal, India was one of GSP’s biggest beneficiaries.

Gokhale’s Thursday statements follow action taken earlier this week by a group of US lawmakers who called on President Donald Trump’s administration to reinstate India’s designation as part of a potential trade deal between the two states. In a letter addressed to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday, a group of 44 US House members said that ending the preferential status for India has been negatively affecting US companies trying to access the Indian market. The latest data from the Coalition for GSP shows that India’s withdrawal from the list means that American companies lost at least $30 million in July.

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The potential trade deal is to be discussed during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States later this month. Apart from the scheduled meeting with President Trump, and Modi’s address at the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, the prime minister is set to hold a number of meetings on investment opportunities. Modi will meet executives from energy majors BP PLC and Exxon Mobil Corp, along with representatives from JPMorgan Chase & Co, Lockheed Martin, Mastercard Inc, and Walmart.

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