Wednesday, 20 November, 2019

Indian Export Subsidies Draw WTO Fire From US

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arrives at the European Commission headquarters US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arrives at the European Commission headquarters
Patty Aguilar | 15 March, 2018, 23:35

The United States has challenged Indian export subsidy schemes at the World Trade Organization, saying that these harm American workers and provide an uneven playing field, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

"These apparent export subsidies provide financial benefits to Indian exporters that allow them to sell their goods more cheaply to the detriment of American workers and manufacturers", the USFTR said in a statement.

The Trump administration has mounted a fresh offensive against India by dragging it to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for providing what it termed as export subsidies through half-a-dozen schemes, including SEZs and the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme.

USTR maintains that export subsidies give an unfair advantage to recipients and are prohibited by WTO rules.

Robert Lightheizer's office on Wednesday, had communicated to the commerce ministry, challenging India's various export subsidy programmes which amounted to $7 billion. The USTR alleged that despite the expiry of India's exemption in 2015, India has continued or even increased coverage of schemes like Merchandise Exports from India Scheme. While the WTO had pointed out that India breached the benchmark in 2015, officials said, the eight-year transition period should be calculated from 2017, when the multilateral trade body pointed it out.

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The GoI programmes under the USA radar include the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS); Export Oriented Units Scheme (EoU) and sector specific schemes, including Electronics Hardware Technology Parks Scheme; Special Economic Zones (SEZ); Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme (EPCG); and a duty free imports for exporters programme, announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the Union budget this year. India has already lost two cases in WTO including on poultry and solar sector.

Besides, this incentives can only be given to a sector that has a share of less than 3.25 percent in global exports. In the textile sector, exports crossed this limit in 2010, meaning that India should phase out the subsidies by the end of 2018. However, India has been insisting that it conducts its trade policy in a non-discriminatory and transparent manner.

However, the USA has alleged that India has ramped up its subsidy program in recent years.

India has increased its allocation for worldwide trade disputes four-fold to Rs1.2 crore in its budget presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley last month.

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