Amidst apprehension that Washington may withdraw
trade concessions in retaliation to stiff customs duty charged on US imports,
India told the Trump administration that the Generalized System of Preference
program (GSP) would enhance the country’s development and the pace of economic
reforms. India therefore urged Washington not to withdraw the trade preference
"India, being a beneficiary developing country, the GSP benefits are
integral and geared to enhance its development and the pace of economic
reforms," Puneet Roy Kundal, Minister Commerce at the Indian Embassy in
Washington DC, told members of USTR's GSP Subcommittee of the Trade Policy
US' Generalized System of Preferences program provides for the preferential
treatment of designated articles when imported from beneficiary developing
USTR had initiated a review which
focused on whether India is meeting the US criteria for a GSP beneficiary
country, and particularly whether India provides "equitable and
reasonable" market access to products from the US.
The products on which India receives GSP benefits belong to sectors which
employ thousands of men and women, especially in the rural areas through micro,
small and medium enterprises, the senior Indian diplomat told the committee.
Mr Kundal urged the USTR to retain the GSP beneficiary status to India.
"Picking out India along with a few GSP benefiting countries, for
potential withdrawal of tariff preferences on the ground that India does not
provide the US 'equitable and reasonable access' to its market would be
inconsistent with the non-discrimination and non-reciprocal obligations under
Enabling Clause," he said.
Noting that a predominant share of the GSP beneficiary items exported from
India are intermediaries and semi-manufactured goods, Kundal said the provision
of GSP benefits to these products enables availability of cost effective and price
competitive inputs to the US downstream industry. "This is helping the US
industries to maintain their domestic and export competitiveness," he
The petitions filed by the US dairy industry and the US medical device industry
requested a review of India's GSP benefits, given India's alleged trade
barriers affecting the US exports in these sectors.
"In respect of export of dairy products from the US to India, the issue is
not of market access but certification given high religious, cultural and moral
sensitivities. India provides unimpeded market access to dairy products from
all countries, and there are exports of these products into India," Kundal
He said India was a progressive nation and envisages that its citizens are
provided with equitable and affordable access to essential medicines and
The emphasis is on providing good quality, affordable and comprehensive
healthcare to all the citizens. These values have also been enshrined in the
National Health Policy, 2017, he added.
Mr Kundal denied that India has undertaken any "unnecessary or
discriminatory" measures or steps to reduce access of US medical devices
industry to the Indian market.
"Nevertheless, to address the concerns of the stakeholders, the government
think-tank NITI Aayog placed a concept note on trade margin rationalisation
model for public comments and which ultimately would address the
concerns," he told the USTR's GSP subcommittee.
In his testimony, the
Indian representative also argued that "dilution of GSP benefits to India
would be discriminatory, arbitrary and detrimental to the development, finance
and trade needs of India - a vast and diverse developing country with unique