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Trump's labeling of India as a tariff king is 'misplaced', says Jayant Dasgupta, former Ambassador to WTO

Updated : October 03, 2018 07:19 AM IST

US President Donald Trump's labeling of India as a tariff king is misplaced and factually incorrect, said Jayant Dasgupta, former Ambassador to World Trade Organization (WTO).

Yesterday, Trump slammed "tariff king" India for imposing "tremendously high" tariffs on American products like Harley Davidson motorcycles and said he has spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is going to reduce the duties "substantially"

Dasgupta said, "The tariffs on Harley Davidson motorcycle has been one of the issues, which President Trump has been raising quite persistently over the past year or so. Now, that is undoubtedly high tariff of 100 percent, but that is across the board and it's well within our bound tariffs at the WTO."

"If you look at the major US exports, for instance, the US does a lot of exports of natural pearls, gems and other things, which amount to about $3 billion out of $22 billion, which they export to India, that is at 10 percent. If you look at chemicals, that is at 10 percent and that is again more than $1 billion worth. If you look at mineral oil, more than $4 billion out of $22 billion and that is again at 10 percent," he said.

According to Dasgupta, "You cannot just take an isolated instance of particular tariff peak and then keep harping about it. The US also has high tariffs in textiles, leather and in ceramics. Textiles and leather, it goes without saying, these are items of interest to developing countries and it has maintained very high tariffs on all these items for many years."

KC Singh, former diplomat said, "I do not think it gives a good impression for the US President to be condescending and saying they are trying to please me. This is not about pleasing him, this is about following a rule based thing, which is fact based and I hope our delegations are not giving him that impression.”

Meera Shankar, former Ambassador to US said, "According to Harsha Vardhana Singh, who was with the WTO, the actual applied rates that India applies, are even lower, somewhere between 2.3 and 1.7, because we give a large number of concessions, which do not get reflected in the trade data. So, there is need for greater transparency about our trade policy so that people understand that it's not high tariffs.”

“The US itself imposes tariffs as high as 350 percent on agriculture. In fact, there are range of products, which have tariffs ranging over a 100 percent in agriculture. So, it's pretty high tariffs that the US has and this is kind of selective picking out of one item by President Trump,” she added.
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