Trump issues fresh trade tariff warning to India

United States President Donald Trump attacked India once again about trade tariffs ahead of official-level trade talks between India and the US this week in New Delhi. 

Trump tweeted on Tuesday, lashing out at India, saying that the country "has long had a field day" with tariffs and it was "no longer acceptable". 

His tweet comes just before Assistant US trade representative (USTR) Chris Wilson and USTR deputy assistant Brendan Lynch are expected to meet Indian officials to break the deadlock in trade ties. 

It also follows talks between Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan last month.

PM Modi and US President Donald Trump at the G-20 Summit in Japan in June. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@narendramodi
PM Modi and US President Donald Trump at the G-20 Summit in Japan in June. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@narendramodi

Ahead of the Japan meeting with PM Modi, Trump had tweeted: “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 This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!"

Trade between the countries was worth USD 142.1 billion in 2018, with India having a surplus of USD 24.2 billion. Despite close political and security ties, trade between India and the US is widely seen to be performing at nearly a quarter of its potential.

In the past, Trump has slammed India for "high tariffs" on American products, describing the country as a "tariff king" in October last year, repeatedly emphasising India’s imposition of 50% duty on imports of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Timeline of the India-US trade conflict: 

  • March 2019: The US announced its decision to withdraw preferential duty benefits to India after talks broke down. The withdrawal was deferred on account of the Indian elections which were underway with the hope that negotiations would begin once the new government took charge. 
  • June 1, 2019: Trump issued the presidential proclamation and withdrew preferential duty benefits given to India, effective June 5.
  • June 2019: India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products starting June 5. The US subsequently raised the dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO). 
  • July 2019: India raised customs duties on a host of products, including alloy steel and auto parts, in the budget presented on July 5.