Trucks sit parked at the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), part of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), in Haldia, West Bengal, India. (Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg)

India Again Defers Duty Hike On U.S. Products Till Jan. 31

India for the fourth time deferred the deadline to impose retaliatory customs duties on 29 U.S. products, including almond, walnut and pulses, by another 45 days, the government has said.

The implementation of the duty hike has been postponed until Jan. 31, 2019, according to a notification by the Ministry of Finance.

The Commerce Ministry had asked its finance counterpart to extend the deadline further. India decided to impose retaliatory tariffs from Aug. 4. But it was extended by 45 days till Sept. 18 and then till Nov. 2. In November, the decision to impose these duties was deferred till Dec. 17.

New Delhi has notified higher tariffs on several products as part of imposition of higher import duties. While import duty on walnut is to be hiked to 120 percent from 30 percent, duty on chickpeas, Bengal gram (chana) and masur dal will be raised to 70 percent from 30 percent. Levy on lentils will be increased to 40 percent, from 30 percent.

The duty hike move by India was in retaliation to U.S. President Donald Trump’s March 9 decision to impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items.

Senior officials of India and the U.S. are in discussions to finalise a kind of trade deal. Both sides are holding two track discussions—to increase trade in short and medium term, and identify long-term trade potentials.

India is pressing for exemption from high duty imposed by the U.S. on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their generalised system of preferences, greater market access for its products from agriculture, automobile, automobile components and engineering sectors.

The U.S. is demanding greater market access through cut in import duties for its agriculture goods, dairy products, medical devices, IT and communication items on the other hand, the official said.

India’s exports to the U.S. in 2017-18 stood at $47.9 billion, while imports were $26.7 billion. The trade balance is in favour of India. Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu will hold bilateral discussions on trade issues with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Feb. 14 in New Delhi.

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