12:30 GMT25 January 2020
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    India on 16 June imposed tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds and apples, in a retaliatory move against US President Donald Trump withdrawing India's preferential trade treatment.

    New Delhi (Sputnik - The new duties imposed by New Delhi on US products, some as high as 70 per cent, are a clear message to the US not to think of bullying India, opines Indian economist Prem Shankar Jha.

    The imposition of tariffs is considered a retaliatory move to the US' refusal to exempt India from higher tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. They are expected to place a burden of $220-290 million on the US.

    Economist Prem Shankar Jha, a former consultant to the World Bank and ex-information adviser to the prime minister of India, in an interview says India has responded to the US in a tit-for-tat manner. He commented on many different aspects of the emerging trade tensions. 

    Sputnik: How do you view India’s retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products ? Do you think it’s Modi’s reply to the US' earlier move against India?

    Shankar Jha: There can be an analogy drawn between the policies of Donald Trump and Narendra Modi. Trump was getting into trade wars with various countries, but Modi has retaliated with a tit-for-tat measure. It is a rebuttal to the GSP withdrawal for India. The US has over the years enjoyed enormously low tariff benefits with India. Thus, the message sent out by India is clear “don’t treat us like your subordinate country because we are not!” India has its own national interest and it can’t be bullied to not look into it. The US should keep in mind that India has always been a friendly country and there are 6 million Indians living in the US.

    Sputnik: Days after the expiry of Iranian crude oil waivers, the US raised multiple objections to India’s decision to procure five squadrons of Russian-made S-400 Triumf air defence systems. Do you think the US is going a bit too far in interfering in India’s foreign trade policies?

    Shankar Jha: Even if India pays heed to the US, they can only go so far in affecting the relations with Russia and China. These relationships have been built over the years with enormous hard work. While India surely has moved closer to the US in last five years, it does seem like the US has gone a bit too far with its interference. For the S-400, they are trying tricks of many sorts to make India back out. But it is for the US to understand that India in all probability would not back down from the S-400 deal. It is a done deal and the sooner US gets it the better. India has not decided as of yet on what to do with the Iranian oil but it looks like India might look for different ways like the barter system to continue importing oil from Iran. India has put across a message that the US cannot bully the world into becoming subjects of the Americans.

    Sputnik: With many observing Trump’s foreign policy as aggressive, what can be expected from the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming visit on 24 June?

    Shankar Jha: India surely has a clear strategy before Pompeo’s India visit on 24 June. But the fact about strategies in international relations is that it is never clearly laid out in the open and is only put across through indications. Once the joint statement after Pompeo’s visit is out, it would be clearer as to how the Indo-US relationship would pan out in the future. Trump’s behaviour is understandable as US faces a balance of payment deficit of $0.5 trillion dollars a year and a national debt mounting to almost two times of GDP. The US thinking that they would dominate the whole world via financial pressure is wrong. It has been tried before and it has never worked.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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