Indian media reported yesterday that the United States government is amenable to granting the country’s aluminium smelters a conditional waiver of the Trump administration’s blanket 10-percent tariffs.
Few details were released at the time, but Indian television channel ET NOW broke the story yesterday, which, if true, is the most positive response yet to the country’s continued appeals for leniency on behalf of its aluminium and steel producers.
“The US has agreed to exempt a certain percentage of India’s average exports in last five years from the higher import duty, but talks are still on as India is pushing for a complete exemption,” an unnamed government official is quoted as saying.
India was never among those granted temporary or permanent exemptions from the Section 232 tariffs on aluminium and steel imports into the United States. The tariff, which was implemented this spring after a year-long investigation, ostensibly protects United States aluminium and steel producers from low-priced imports on the grounds that such imports threaten domestic smelters’ ability to provide specialty aluminium required for unique national defense purposes.
The Indian government has consistently held that its exports of aluminium and steel to the United States are so minimal relative to the entirety of the aluminium and steel imported by the States on a yearly basis that it cannot possibly pose a material threat to the competitiveness of American smelters. India began taking its complaint via official channels to the Trump administration in March only days after the new tariffs were announced.
To date, the administration has not responded favorably to India’s entreaties. As a result, the Indian government initiated a complaint at the World Trade Organization, appealing to the body, as many other states have already done, that the tariffs are in fact protectionist in nature, and not done with national security in mind.
In addition, the Indian government decided in June to raise the import tax on a wide variety of United States goods, including almonds, walnuts, and apples. However, despite the tax being set to come into effect in early August, the government has put off implementing the tax on two occasions to date.