Ahead of PM Modi's visit, India reminds US of preferential trade status

New Delhi: Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Thursday at a press conference said that India met the criteria for trade concessions under the US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), and asserted that it was up to Washington to take a call on the issue.

The Foreign Secretary’s remarks came a day after a bipartisan group of 44 US legislators urged the Trump administration to reinstate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the key GSP trade programme as a part of potential trade deal between the two countries.

The Trump administration terminated India's designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the GSP on June 5. The GSP is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme and is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries, reported News18.

Gokhale, at a press conference on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to the US, said, "We have seen the letter written by these 40-odd Congressmen. It has always been India's position that GSP is a unilateral decision given by countries to other countries based on certain criteria."

"We are a developing country, we meet those criteria. I do not recall our ever stating, we are not interested in GSP. To my recollection the US unilaterally withdrew that concession from us," Gokhale said.

"Our position in the matter is clear, we believe that GSP is something which is important for our industry, but ultimately it is a matter for the US to take a call on," he said.

In a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the House members suggest an "early harvest" approach that "would ensure that long-sought market access gains for US industries are not held up by negotiations over remaining issues".

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet on September 22 in Houston and the two sides hope to announce a potential deal on longstanding trade issues, including GSP, a media report said.


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