India proposes retaliatory duties on UK imports for curbs on steel products

NEW DELHI, Sep 1:  India has proposed to impose retaliatory customs duties under the WTO norms on about USD 250 million worth of goods imported from the UK if no agreement is reached on compensation in a case concerning the imposition of restrictions by Britain on steel products.

India has raised concerns at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the UK’s move to extend safeguard duty and quota restrictions on the import of certain steel products till 2024.

New Delhi has stated that it has substantial trade interest in the sector.

According to the WTO, India has submitted its concerns to the UK regarding the manner in which safeguard measures have been extended which is violative of the global trade provisions and the WTO’s Agreement on Safeguards.

New Delhi has requested compensation under the agreement, it said. The UK has disagreed with India’s views on the measures but agreed to discuss adequate means of compensation.

“India estimates that the safeguard measures have resulted in the decline of exports to the tune of 219 thousand metric tonnes on which the duty collection would be USD 247.7 million.

“If no agreement is reached on the compensation within 30 days of the consultations, India reserves its right to suspend concessions or other obligations substantially equivalent to the adverse effects of the measures under…The Agreement on Safeguards, on the UK’s trade, and any other right available under GATT 1994 and Agreement on Safeguards,” according to the communication of India submitted to the WTO.

India also reserves the right to withdraw, modify, supplement or replace this notification.

“The suspensions of concessions and other obligations will continue to apply until the safeguard measures of the UK are lifted,” it added.

It also said that India has expressed concerns regarding “legal inconsistencies” of both the original and the extended measures by the UK with reference to, the evidence of serious injury notified to the WTO, duration of the safeguard measures exceeding 3 years, and nature of investigation conducted by the UK on the domestic industry.

An official said that consultations on the compensation are going on between the two countries.

Last year, New Delhi has also proposed similar measures against the European Union (EU) under the aegis of the WTO against a move of the 28-nation bloc to impose safeguard duties on certain steel products.

In 2018, India imposed retaliatory customs duties on certain American goods against their move to impose high customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products.

The WTO is a Geneva-based, 164-member global body which frames rules and norms for exports and imports and adjudicates trade disputes among member countries.

India is negotiating a free trade agreement with the UK, talks for which are expected to conclude this month.

The bilateral trade has increased to USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to USD 13.2 billion in 2020-21. India’s exports stood at USD 10.5 billion in 2021-22, while imports were USD 7 billion. According to an expert, seeking consultations with the safeguard committee is a way to inform the other country that they are not fulfilling their commitments under the global trade rules.  (PTI)