New Delhi: India will shortly engage with the US on the issue of America’s latest protectionist measures that have unfolded the prospects of an all-out global trade war with potential to damage Indian exports, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Monday.
US President Donald Trump slapped import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium in March. China retaliated last week increasing tariffs by up to 25 per cent on 128 US products, from frozen pork and wine to certain fruits and nuts.
US Assistant Trade Representative (USTR) Mark Limscott arrives here for talks later this week to provide India the first opportunity to put across its case for an exemption along the lines of the ones the US has allowed to the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea.
Following a World Trade Organisation (WTO) mini-ministerial held here in March, Prabhu had announced that India would bilaterally take up the issue of trade protectionism measures imposed by the US.
Addressing industry chamber CII’s annual meeting here on Monday, Prabhu also said the current challenges posed to globalisation and the multilateral trade system could be turned into opportunities for India with the help of a “well thought out strategy”.
“Today, globalisation which had become accepted, is being questioned by countries we never expected… but we must convert this challenge to opportunity,” he said.
“India’s opportunity is that we have excellent relationship with all major countries and groupings of the world like Asean, EU.
“We can meet these new challenges by working out a detailed well-thought out strategy.”
In March, Prabhu had said: “We will take it up with the US, with whom we have a huge trade surplus and we have a very good political relationship. We will take up this with them bilaterally.”
Following the US imposition of duties, Indian industry chamber Assocham had said that an annual trade deficit of $150 billion with the US alone does not allow India room to retaliate in the event of a global trade war since the country’s imports are mostly of an essential nature.
“We cannot flex too much of our importing muscle, even if our exports face consequences of trade war and are subjected to tariff barriers.
“So, the best course would be to keep engaged with the major trading partners, without aligning ourselves too much into a single bloc,” an Assocham statement said.
The industry lobby suggested that in cases where exports are affected, India must engage bilaterally and use the channel of the World Trade Organisation.
“However, the WTO route could be time consuming. So, the best course would be to stay bilaterally engaged,” it said.