Increased India tariffs ‘unacceptable’, must be withdrawn, says Trump

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President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

Ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that India should withdraw the “unacceptable” high tariffs recently imposed by the country on Washington.

Trump also indicated that he will raise this issue with Modi during their ensuing meeting on the sidelines of G-20 Summit.

This comes a day after US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo held bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar and acknowledged that there were issues between the two countries on trade and committed themselves to remove differences between them.

India had imposed retaliatory tariffs on 25 American goods, less than two weeks after US President Donald Trump announced an end to preferential trade treatment for India over the trade barriers.

Last year, India had announced tariffs in retaliation to higher US import duties on steel and aluminium. Trump has repeatedly called out India for its high tariffs.

“I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high Tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the Tariffs even further. This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!,” said Trump in a tweet ahead of the meeting.

Meanwhile, Modi arrived in Japan for the G20 Summit on Thursday, during which he will attend important plurilateral meetings and meet with the world leaders including Trump. This will be Prime Minister Modi’s sixth G20 Summit which is being held at Osaka on June 28-29.

In his departure statement, he said that issues such as women empowerment, artificial intelligence and common efforts to address challenges like terrorism will be high on his agenda.

Besides Modi, the US president will meet his Chinese and Russian counterparts Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit.

Earlier, the White House said Trump and Modi would hold a bilateral meeting on June 28. This would be the third engagement of Trump on Friday, which would start with his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at 8.30 am local time. Thereafter, Modi would join Abe and Trump for a tri-lateral meeting at 9.15 am.

The Trump-Modi bilateral is scheduled to start at 9.35 am. Trump’s next engagement is with German Chancellor Angel Merkel at 10.15 am, according to the White House. He will also meet the Russian and Brazilian presidents later in the afternoon.

This would be Trump’s first meeting with Modi after his recent electoral victory. It comes in the immediate aftermath of the India visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The Trump-Modi meeting assumes significance in the wake of the strain that has popped up in the bilateral relationship on a host of trade and economic issues.

In his brief interaction with the media on the South Lawns of the White House, Trump did not mention India.

“I’m meeting with (leaders of) many countries. We’re meeting with many countries, we have many things. We’ve been ripped off by everybody over the years. They’re not ripping us off anymore. A big difference right now,” he said.

“We’re meeting with China, just so you know, China has been paying us billions and billions of dollars. Until I got here, they never paid this country 10 cents. So, we’ll see what happens with China, with Russia, with Japan, with many countries,” Trump said.

Earlier during an interview with Fox News, Trump emphasized on bilateral trade agreements with other countries.

This is Trump’s second visit to Japan in less than a month.

The G20 is an opportunity for world leaders to discuss the biggest challenges facing the global economy, the White House said.

Trump’s goal this week is to fight for the best deals and outcomes possible to lift up America’s workers, it said.

A truly level playing field means breaking down foreign barriers — both the tariff and non-tariff kind — that have stifled America’s economy and taken away too many jobs, the White House said.

“Unlike his predecessors, Trump is willing to use every tool at his disposal to bring these countries to the negotiating table and agree to better terms for our citizens,” it said.

“We are a country that’s respected again,” Trump said before boarding Marine One Wednesday afternoon.

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