India keeps door open for trade-war truce with the US

Shipping containers sit stacked on the Hyundai Force container ship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, operated by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Bloomberg pic)

NEW DELHI: India deferred the imposition of retaliatory tariffs on some US imports to next month, opening the door to an agreement that would avert a trade war between the two nations.

The higher import duty on goods like chickpeas and Bengal gram, or chana, has been delayed to Sept. 18 from Aug. 4, the finance ministry said in a notification. The two sides have held meetings to relieve the tension in trade relations after Washington slapped higher levies on products shipped from the South Asian nation.

The move comes as trade tensions between the US and China intensify. The Trump administration is considering increasing its proposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, while Beijing has threatened to retaliate.

India’s list also included tariffs on walnuts, almonds, boric acid, apples, diagnostic reagents and some hot-rolled coil products. The nation’s position is that Trump’s 25% and 10% duties on steel and aluminium, respectively, violate the global trading rules and have hurt its exports.

India had a trade surplus of $25 billion with the US in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The US cited this as one of the reasons for naming India a potential currency manipulator.