US launches WTO action on Indian export subsidies

The United States said Wednesday it was taking action at the World Trade Organization against Indian government export subsidies, which officials said unfairly disadvantaged American workers and manufacturers.

“These export subsidy programs harm American workers by creating an uneven playing field on which they must compete,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

“USTR will continue to hold our trading partners accountable by vigorously enforcing US rights under our trade agreements and by promoting fair and reciprocal trade through all available tools, including the WTO.”

According to Lighthizer’s office, India offers benefits valued at $7 billion annually to domestic exporters such as duty, tax and fee exemptions — including producers of steel, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, information technology products and textiles.

The action opened a new front in President Donald Trump’s intensifying trade offensive, with the White House having already announced import duties on steel and aluminum as well as imports of solar panels and washing machines.

Trump tweeted early Wednesday that the United States could not “keep a blind eye to the rampant unfair practices against our country!”

The White House is also considering slapping tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese imports, particularly in the tech and telecommunications sector.

In Wednesday?s statement, the office of the US Trade Representative said India had expanded its export subsidy programs, doubling the number of eligible products in the last three years.

Trump has said he does not favor resorting to dispute resolutions at the WTO, where he claims the United States is at a disadvantage.

The administration has instead focused so far on tariffs and remedies under domestic US law.

The prior administration of President Barack Obama, however, touted US successes in opening foreign markets to US exports by winning favorable WTO decisions.

Source: AFP

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