New Delhi (Sputnik) — A delegation of US trade negotiators led by Mark Linscott has arrived in New Delhi to calm down trade tensions that have been threatening the warm relationship shared by US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two-day visit is being held against the backdrop of India raising import tariffs on 29 American goods to negate the loss incurred by the Indian industry due to the Trump administration's 10% and 25% hike in tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively.
However, India has delayed the rollout of higher duties until August and stopped short of imposing heavy duties on Harley Davidson motorcycles — an issue raised publicly by Donald Trump on several platforms.
"India has implemented a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on US commerce," Erland Herfindahl, the deputy assistant trade representative for the GSP, had said in April.
According to latest government data, exports from India to the US under GSP rose from $4.58 billion in 2015 to $5.58 billion in 2017.
"The US government has been raising the issue of the price cap on medical equipment for a long time. The Narendra Modi government had taken this decisive step against all odds last year. I do not think there is a miniscule possibility to go back on this," Dr. Ashwani Mahajan, National co-convener, Swadeshi Jagran Manch- sister body of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party- told Sputnik.
"There has been consistency in India's view on dairy and farm products for decades. India will not provide any space to any countries around the world which intended to hurt the farmers," Mahajan added.
Other issues like Intellectual Property Rights and US visas for Indian IT professionals will be discussed at length during the two-day meeting.
An Indian analyst says that US protectionism too is driven by election pressure.
"One should not be surprised that the current presidency in the US is clearly looking for large-scale protectionism, especially during the run-up to the next elections. Countries like India need to be watchful and prepare from such measures," Prof NR Bhanumurthy, renowned Indian economist and a professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in New Delhi told Sputnik.
India now fears that Trump's next target could be country's pharmaceuticals, which in 2016 comprised 16 percent of Indian exports to the US.
The Trump administration has been consistently raising the issue of the widening trade deficit with India, which ballooned to $30 billion last year. Given that the two-day meet is most likely to discuss the way and means by which both the countries can narrow this gap. India's Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu is hoping that imports of commercial aircraft and natural gas from the US can correct the trade imbalance and pacify the Trump administration.