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Trump hits out at 'unacceptable' Indian tariffs ahead of G20

June 27, 2019

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US President Donald Trump. — Reuters/File
US President Donald Trump. — Reuters/File

Donald Trump on Thursday lashed out at what he called “unacceptable” tariffs imposed by India as the US president headed towards a high-stakes G20 summit likely to be dominated by trade tensions.

“I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high Tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the Tariffs even further. This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!” tweeted the president.

India slapped higher tariffs on 28 US products following Washington's withdrawal this month of key trade privileges for New Delhi.

India's trade ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters email seeking comment.

Trump's remarks could further worsen a trade row that has led to tit-for-tat tariffs from India and the United States and created an unease over the depth of their security alliance.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in New Delhi on Wednesday, sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India, promising a renewed focus on negotiating better ties, but giving few specifics of how they would overcome disputes over trade and investment.

Trump scrapped trade privileges for India under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), under which New Delhi was the biggest beneficiary that allowed duty-free exports of up to $5.6 billion.

India initially issued an order in June last year to raise import taxes as high as 120 per cent on a slew of US items, incensed by Washington's refusal to exempt it from higher steel and aluminium tariffs.

But New Delhi repeatedly delayed raising tariffs as the two nations engaged in trade talks. Trade between them stood at about $142.1 billion in 2018.