New Delhi: India has asked the United States to exempt it from higher tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying Indian exports of the two products did not pose a security threat to America, three government officials said.
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump suspended tariffs for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, Mexico and the European Union, the biggest U.S. trading partner, until May 1, 2018, as discussions continue.
The administration said countries not on the list could discuss with Washington ways to address U.S. national security concerns caused by imports of steel from that country.
India’s trade ministry has written to the U.S. government, asking that it also be exempted from the 25 percent levy on steel and 10 percent on aluminum to protect U.S. national security and economic interests, grounds that experts say suggest are primarily aimed against China.
“The tariffs will definitely affect our exports. And clearly, as far as the quantum is concerned and the type of steel is concerned, there is no such thing as a security threat to the U.S.,” Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh told Reuters.
The United States accounts for 2 percent of India’s steel exports but the move comes at a time when long-festering trade differences between the two countries are already aggravated, triggered by tariffs that India has imposed on dozens of products in recent months as part of steps to boost the domestic industry.
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer ten days ago and asked that the new trade measures not apply to India, a top official involved with framing of government policy told Reuters.
“India is not going to be a security threat. And if you are looking at the trade deficit, some of it has definitely reduced,” the official said.