US President Donald Trump called for withdrawal of high import tariffs imposed by India ahead of his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a tweet on Thursday, Trump termed the import duties "unacceptable" after mentioning that he is looking forward to meet PM Modi. The two leaders are scheduled to meet each other on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.
In his tweet, Trump said, "I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister 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 This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!"
I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister 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 This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2019
Trump's tweet came a day after his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met PM Modi and Indian foreign affairs minister S Jaishankar during his visit to India. Pompeo's meeting with Jaishankar was meant to prepare the groundwork for the summit level meeting between US President Donald Trump and PM Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on July 28. Jaishankar will also accompany PM Modi for the summit.
During their meeting, Pompeo and Jaishankar also discussed the trade frictions between India and the United States at length. Both foreign ministers tried to present the perspective of their leaders on matters of trade in the interaction.
"On some outstanding issues related to trade, I pushed for a constructive and pragmatic view. The real test of our intentions will be our ability to deal with this," said Jaishankar.
Asserting that "great friends are bound to have disagreements", Pompeo said the US has been clear in seeking greater market access and the removal of trade barriers in its economic relationship with India.
India has raised tariffs on 28 items imported from the US, including almond, apples, pulses and walnut, in retaliation to America's withdrawal of preferential access for Indian products. The government on June 21 last year decided to impose these duties in retaliation to the US decision of significantly hiking customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products. The US, in March last year, had imposed 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent import duty on aluminium products.
As India is one of the major exporters of these items to the US, the move has revenue implication of about $240 million on domestic steel and aluminium products.
Trump has also criticised India's high import tariff on the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles as "unacceptable" though acknowledging that his "good friend" Prime Minister Modi has reduced it from 100 per cent to 50 per cent. Last February, India slashed the customs duty on imported motorcycles like Harley-Davidson to 50 per cent after Trump called it "unfair" and threatened to increase the tariff on import of Indian bikes to the US.
(Edited by Vivek Punj with PTI inputs)