Trump's GSP sting could cause damage of Rs 3.80 lakh crores but ministry downplays impact

Last Updated: Sat, Jun 01, 2019 18:50 hrs
Trump Trade

The Indian government and the opposition are on different page on the GSP trade preference related fiasco that has hit the country.

US President Donald Trump on Friday has called for the abrupt ending of a trade system with India that secures trade of goods of as much as $5.6 billions from India to US.

"I have determined that India has not assured the United States that India will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets," he said in a proclamation issued Friday night.

On March 5, the United States announced the withdrawal of special duty benefits under the GSP and were to come into force from the first week of May. However, Washington decided to postpone the implementation of its decision until May 23, when India gets a new government.

Trump's latest sting is likely to impair trade equations with India.

A day after Trump revealed his plans, India downplayed the possibility of a negative impact on trade relations.

"It is unfortunate that this did not find acceptance by the United States," said a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

"India, like the United States and other nations shall always uphold its national interest in these matters. We have significant development imperatives and concerns and our people also aspire for better standards of living. This will remain the guiding factor in the government's approach," it said.

"We view this issue as a part of this regular process and will continue to build on our strong ties with the United States -- both economic and people-to-people," said the statement. "We are confident that the two nations will continue to work together intensively for further growing these ties in a mutually beneficial manner."

The Indian opposition Congress Party at a Press Conference in New Delhi said that exports worth a massive $54.4 billion equivalent to Rs 3.80 lakh crores would be affected.

Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: "The US government's proclamation terminating the status of India as 'Beneficiary Developing Country' i.e the 'Special Trade Status' with effect from June 5, 2019 has grave trade and economic implications for India."

The Congress leader pointed out that the 'Special Trade Status' was availed by India on November 24, 1975, when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister and it has now been withdrawn after 44 years.

Surjewala said: "This directly affects 16 per cent of India's exports."

He said India exports commodities like jewellery, precious stones and diamonds worth $11 billion, agricultural products worth $2.7 billion, auto parts worth $1.2 billion, pharmaceuticals worth $ 6.3 billion and others worth $33.2 billion.

"Already, unemployment is at a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent (NSSO) and the GDP growth has slumped to a 5-year low to 5.8 per cent. At this juncture, withdrawal of the Special Trade Status by the US is double whammy," he said.

Targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre, Surjewala said: "On one hand, Indian government has decided to yield to pressure and stop purchasing crude oil of 23.5 million tonnes annually from Iran at favourable terms and on the other hand, 'Special Trade Status' for India has been withdrawn by the country to whom our export volume is the largest."

"What is of more concern is the fact that the withdrawal of 'Special Trade Status' was notified to India on March 4 itself. Yet the government did nothing to pre-empt it," he said.

"We urge upon the Prime Minister to make a comprehensive statement on the issue to the nation and place before the public a way forward to overcome this grave trade and economic crisis," Surjewala added.