Washington, Sep 18 (IANS) A group of 44 influential US Congressmen has urged the Donald Trump administration to reinstate India as a beneficiary nation under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade programme.
The US administration had terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the GSP in June.
In a letter to Robert Lighthizer, US Trade Representative, the House members suggested an “early harvest” approach that “would ensure that long-sought market access gains for US industries are not held up by negotiations over remaining issues”.
The letter comes ahead of the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump on September 22 in Houston when the two sides are likely to announce a deal on their trade issues, including GSP.
Led by Congressmen Jim Himes and Ron Estes, the letter to Lighthizer has been signed by 26 Democrats and 18 Republicans, showing the strong, bipartisan support for reinstating GSP benefits for imports from India.
“We also have a strong desire to see the GSP eligibility for India reinstated. Should there be progress in negotiations, we hope you will use the tools provided by the GSP statute as warranted, such a partial reinstatement,” the letter read.
“An early harvest approach would ensure that long-sought market access gains for US industries are not held up by negotiations over remaining issues, thereby providing swift relief for both American exporters and importers. Resolving some individual issues quickly could build momentum for future successes,” it added.
Just as US industries are harmed by lack of fair and reciprocal access to India’s market, American companies and workers also are harmed by new tariffs due to GSP termination, the lawmakers wrote.
“The costs are real for our constituents and growing every day. We urge you to continue negotiations and consider an early harvest to help American jobs that depend on two-way trade between the United States and India,” they said.
Observing that the US has legitimate concerns about India, the lawmakers wrote those policies negatively affect US companies trying to access its market, including a number of longstanding issues that have been subject to inter-governmental talks for years.
“As you know, several US industries filed petitions under GSP’s market access criterion which were accepted for review in April 2018. Ultimately, failure to make sufficient progress on the issues led to termination of India’s GSP eligibility on June 5, 2019,” they said.
“We are encouraged to see continued engagement between the administration and the newly-elected government of India that assumed office in late May, including visits by senior USTR and Indian officials over the summer. The change in government provides a fresh opportunity to address outstanding concerns, and we hope that new Indian officials will offer concrete solutions that improve market access for American companies and workers,” the Congressmen wrote in the letter.
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.