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New Delhi levies retaliatory tariffs on US export in latest trade row

India has levied higher tariffs on American exports to the country in a retaliatory measure after Washington’s move to strip New Delhi of preferential access to the US market.

New Delhi announced on Saturday that it will impose the higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 American products, including apples, walnuts and almonds as of Sunday, according to a government notification that marks the latest US trade row with a trading partner since US President Donald Trump rose to power in 2017 pledging to retaliate against nations with which US has a large trade deficit.

India had adopted a similar move against the US last year after Washington refused to exempt New Delhi from controversial tariff hikes on steel and aluminum.

Trump scrapped trade privileges as of June 5 under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for India, which was the leading beneficiary of a scheme that permitted duty-free exports of up to $5.6 billion, prompting New Delhi to slam the move as “unfortunate” while vowing to defend its national interests.

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This is while New Delhi first issued an order in June of last year to hike import taxes as high as 120 percent on a variety of American goods, enraged by Washington’s refusal to exempt it from higher tariffs on steel and aluminum.

India, however, repeatedly deferred the move to raise tariffs as the two countries engaged in trade negotiations as trade between them stood at nearly $142 billion in 2018.

Moreover, observers predict that the higher Indian tariffs on American products would deteriorate the growing political and security relations between the two countries.

The development came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is due to visit India later this month, announced last week Washington was open to talks to resolve trade issues with India, through greater access for US companies to its markets.

India is the largest importer of American almonds, paying $543 million for more than half of US almond exports in 2018, according to official figures of the US Department of Agriculture. It is the second largest buyer of US apples, importing $156 million worth last year.

This is while New Delhi’s new rules in areas such as e-commerce and data localization have infuriated Washington and US-based companies such as Amazon.com, Walmart Inc, Mastercard and Visa, among others.

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