As Trump continues to levy trade tariffs on America’s trading partners, despite international agreements stipulating that such actions will not be implemented, the team of nations opposing Trump’s trade policies continues to grow and hit back. Back in March, Trump announced his plan to tariff China over its alleged economic aggression and ‘unfair’ trade practices, which sparked a tit for tat response from Beijing, which then met a punitive response from Washington realizing retaliatory measures from China before a deal was cut in Washington to make a truce on the trade war, effectively ending the tariffs spat, but which was then violated within a matter of days. China followed that up with an even amount of tariffs on American goods to compensate for the damage.
The EU as well, due to Trump’s metals tariffs, have unpacked countermeasures to deal with this new trade reality with America, and so has Japan, while South Korea has a dispute filed with the WTO over the matter. India, too, has promised an equivalent response, and has now requantified it, announcing that it is preparing to impose tariffs and remove trade concessions on some 30 products imported from the USA.
India will suspend trade concessions and raise import duties on 30 products from the United States by up to 50 percent, in a mirror response to Washington’s impetuous move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
New Delhi has drawn up a list of 30 American products it now wants to target with increased import duties. The new measures will see a 50 percent tariff increase on motorcycles with engine capacities of over 800cc, while apple imports would be charged with a 25 percent levy. Imports of almonds and walnuts would see a 20 percent levy.
Earlier this week, New Delhi sent a letter to the World Trade Organization notifying the body of its intention. The total tariff increase on all products in the list will amount to an estimated additional $240 million in import fees. The sum is roughly equivalent to the damage India would suffer from Donald Trump’s protectionist measures.
“The proposed suspension of concessions or other obligations takes the form of an increase in tariffs on selected products originating in the United States, based on the measures of the United States,” New Delhi wrote to the WTO on June 13. “India wishes to clarify that suspension of concessions shall be equivalent to the amount of trade affected by the United States’ measures.”
“India reserves its right to further suspend substantially equivalent concessions and other obligations based on the trade impact resulting from the application of the measures of the United States,” the notification added.
In March, President Trump announced 25 and 10 percent tariffs on all foreign steel and aluminum entering the United States. While some countries were granted exemptions, India wasn’t. New Delhi made representations to the WTO in May, threatening to raise duties by up to 100 percent on 20 products imported from the United States. This week, the government has finalized its list and figures. Earlier, India said it will go ahead with retaliatory measures on 21 June, unless the US reconsiders its import fees.
New Delhi notified the WTO just as Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu was wrapping up his trip to Washington, where he held discussions with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, to find ways to avoid an all-out trade war.
Last week, speaking at the G7 gathering in Canada, Donald Trump lashed out against “unfair” foreign trade relations, this time between the United States and India. “I mean, we have India, where some of the tariffs are 100 percent. A hundred percent. And we charge nothing. We can’t do that,” Trump said last week. “We’re like the piggybank that everybody is robbing
But trade wars are good and easy to win, right? And the list of countries that have an economic gripe with the US isn’t growing? Not quite, in either case, as Europe is presently very much ill at east about the aluminum and steel tariffs, increase in oil prices, partly influenced by the geopolitical fallout from Trump’s JCPOA withdrawal, and China getting into a tit for tat trade spat with the US, with an outcome that very much adversely impacts trade in Europe and Asia.
In fact, with a growing list of nations that find America to be a poor trade partner, or who have been shunned by American markets altogether, it’s likely that they might start turning to each other to fill the void that the US market used to fill; that is, before Trump. Mexico and China are already seeking for other markets from which to source their goods in order to mitigate the damage of a trade war with America, and it won’t be surprising to see the news break out that India will do the same. India has already announced that it intends to continue doing business with Iran and Venezuela, despite US sanctions, and is improving its ties with Russia and China.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.