India is likely to extend the deadline for imposing retaliatory customs duties on 29 US products, including almond, walnut and pulses, by another 14 days, a source said.
The commerce ministry is expected to recommend to the revenue department, under the finance ministry, to extend the deadline for imposing higher tariffs. The current deadline will end on May 2.
“The ministry will recommend extension of the deadline on retaliatory tariffs on imports from the US by another 14 days,” the source said.
If accepted by the finance ministry, the revenue department would issue a notification to that effect.
The government has already extended this deadline over half a dozen times since June 2018, when it decided to impose these duties in retaliation to a move by the US to impose high customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products.
The issue assumes significance with the US deciding to withdraw export incentives being provided by them to Indian exporters for certain goods under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. The withdrawal is expected to come into force from May 2.
Domestic exporters are jittery over the US’ decision to withdraw these incentives as they export goods worth USD 5.6 billion under the GSP programme. About 1,900 items including from chemicals and engineering sectors avail these sops.
Both the sides were holding two-track discussions to increase trade in the short and medium term and identify long-term trade potentials.
India is pressing for exemption from the high duty imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their GSP programme, greater market access for its products from agriculture, automobile, automobile components and engineering sectors.
On the other hand, the US is demanding greater market access through a cut in import duties for its agriculture goods, dairy products, medical devices, IT and communication items. India has stated that it would be difficult for them to cut duties on IT products.
As part of the imposition of higher import duties, New Delhi has notified higher tariffs on several products. While import duty on walnut has been increased to 120 per cent from 30 per cent currently, duty on chickpeas, Bengal gram (chana) and masur dal will be raised to 70 per cent, from 30 per cent currently. Levy on lentils will be increased to 40 per cent, from 30 per cent. However, the notification has not yet been implemented.
India’s exports to the US in 2017-18 stood at USD 47.9 billion, while imports were USD 26.7 billion. The trade balance is in favour of India.