India likely to defer imposition of retaliatory import duty on the US yet again

India is likely to defer retaliatory duty against the US on the import of 29 products worth USD 235 million for the fourth time to January 31, 2019. The duty was scheduled to come into effect from December 17.

“The implementation of higher import duty is likely to be postponed again by another 45 days,” a senior government official told Moneycontrol.

On June 21, India announced that it had decided to hike import duty on 29 products, to be effective from August 4, in retaliation to the US government’s March decision to levy a tariff on certain steel and aluminium products.

The government later postponed the implementation of the higher duty to September 18, in a bid for the two nations to find a solution. The imposition of tariff was deferred twice by 45 days to November 2 and again to December 17 later.

The higher import duty, if levied, will be imposed on apples, walnuts, lentils, chocolates, as well as some iron and steel items, among others.

It all began in March when the US government signed an order imposing at least 24 percent tax on steel and 10 percent on aluminum products coming into the country from some nations. China, India and Russia are affected by the tariff hike as the US did not grant these nations any exemption.

The move triggered a trade war of sorts globally, as China — the biggest producer and exporter of steel — retaliated by imposing similar tariffs on exports to the US.

India and US have been in discussions on key trade-related issues amicably.

The United States Trade Representative — responsible for coordinating US international trade, negotiations with other nations — is also expected to visit India soon.Key issues are mainly related to higher duties on Indian steel, aluminium products as well as greater market access for both countries. The US has sought greater market access for manufacturing and farm products, while India has asked greater access for automobile and engineering products.