Washington has filed a complaint at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against India’s move to raise customs duties on 28 US goods, alleging the decision is inconsistent with global trade norms and the additional duties imposed ‘appears to nullify or impair the benefits accruing to the US directly or indirectly’ under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). “India also appears to be applying rates of duty to US imports greater than the rates of duty set out in India’s schedule of concessions,” a news agency reported quoting a WTO communication that cited the US application.

The duties are inconsistent because “India fails to extend to products of the US an advantage, favour, privilege or immunity granted by India with respect to customs duties and charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with the importation of products originating in the territory of other members…,” the United States alleged. The United States has sought consultation with India under the aegis of the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism to resolve the dispute. If consultations fail to resolve the dispute after 60 days, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.  The United States has also challenged certain export promotion schemes of India, while India has challenged the unilateral US hike on customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products.

After the US rollback of export incentives from India under its generalised system of preferences (GSP) programme, New Delhi imposed higher customs duties on 28 American products, including almond, pulses, walnut, chickpeas, boric acid and binders for foundry moulds. The duties were hiked as retaliation to the US move to impose the highest customs duties on certain steel and aluminium goods. The other products on which duties were hiked by India include certain kind of nuts, iron and steel products, apples, pears, flat rolled products of stainless steel, other alloy steel, tube and pipe fittings, and screws, bolts and rivets.