Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

India out of GSP programme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GSP

Mains level : Implications of GSP status removal on India

  • The US has announced its intention to “terminate” India’s designation as a beneficiary of its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) duty concession programme.

Why such move?

  • Under the programme, certain products can enter the US duty-free if beneficiary developing countries meet the eligibility criteria established by its Congress.
  • US said that India had failed to provide assurances to the US for “equitable and reasonable” access to its markets in numerous sectors.
  • US’s refers to India as a “very-high tariff nation” and demands for a “reciprocal tax” on goods from India.

What is GSP?

  • The GSP is a US trade preference programme designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.
  • The concept of GSP is very different from the concept of MFN as it provides equal treatment in the case of tariff being imposed by a nation.
  • But in case of GSP, differential tariff could be imposed by a nation on various country whether it is a developed country or a developing country.
  • Both the rules comes under the purview of WTO.
  • GSP provides tariff reduction for least developed countries but MFN is only for not discriminating among WTO members.

India and GSP

  • India has been the biggest beneficiary of the GSP regime and accounted for over a quarter of the goods that got duty-free access into the US in 2017.
  • Exports to the US from India under GSP — at $5.58 billion — were over 12 per cent of India’s total goods exports of $45.2 billion to the US that year.
  • The US goods trade deficit with India was $22.9 billion in 2017.
  • With India exporting $6.3 billion worth of goods to the US under GSP in 2018 and availing duty concession to the tune of only $240 million last year.

Impact of GSP withdrawal

  • Even after US withdrawal of GSP, India continues to enjoy tariff preference from many countries including Australia, Russia and Japan, as well as the European Union (EU), among others.
  • Indian exports to these countries was nearly five times the total exports to the US in 2018.
  • Within the group of countries that provided GSP benefit to India, exports to EU nations were highest, followed by the US, Japan, Russia and Australia, respectively.
  • As exports under GSP accounted for over 11 per cent of India’s total goods exports of $54.4 billion to the US last calendar year, the withdrawal could affect India’s competitiveness in exports.
  • Indian exports from US included organic chemicals, raw materials, iron, steel, furniture, aluminium and electrical machinery.
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