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India has called ‘unfortunate’ US decision to terminate its preferential trade treatment under the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) after several rounds of negotiations failed to resolve differences to mutual satisfaction.

The Generalized System of Preference (GSP) is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.

US President Donald Trump yesterday (Friday, May 31) terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the key GSP trade programme after determining that it had not assured the US that it will provide “equitable and reasonable access to its markets.”

“I have determined that India has not assured the US that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets. Accordingly, it is appropriate to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country effective June 5, 2019,” Trump said in a proclamation on Friday ignoring the plea made by several top American lawmakersas it will cost American businesses over $300 million in additional tariffs every year.

India’s Ministry of Commerce today said India had offered several resolutions, which, however, “didn’t find any acceptance by the US”. In a statement, the Ministry of Commerce said, “India, as part of our bilateral trade relations, had offered resolution on significant US requests to find a mutually acceptable way forward. Unfortunate that this didn’t find acceptance by the US.”

India also expressed hope that the issue was a “part of a regular process” which “gets resolved mutually from time to time”.

“In any relationship, particularly in the area of economic ties, there are issues which get resolved mutually from time to time. We view this issue as a part of a regular process and will continue to build on our strong ties with the US, both economic and people to people,” the statement said.

On March 4, Trump announced that the US intends to terminate India’s designations as a beneficiary developing country under the GSP programme. The 60-day notice period ended on May 3.

Under the GSP programme, nearly 2,000 products including auto components and textile materials can enter the US duty-free if the beneficiary developing countries meet the eligibility criteria established by Congress.

India was the largest beneficiary of the programme in 2017 with $5.7 billion in imports to the US given duty-free status and Turkey the fifth largest with $1.7 billion in covered imports, according to a Congressional Research Service report issued in January.

The GSP criteria includes, among others, respecting arbitral awards in favour of the US citizens or corporations, combating child labour, respecting internationally recognised worker rights, providing adequate and effective intellectual property protection, and providing the US with equitable and reasonable market access.

Countries can also be graduated from the GSP programme depending on factors related to economic development.

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