India Under Pressure from the U.S. on Trade Policy

In recent months, the U.S. has put pressure on India over its trade policy, which it considers unfairly benefits Indian exporters at the expense of foreign producers. This comes at a time when the Indian external sector, which has benefited for years from supportive trade policy, is already under strain. India’s merchandise trade balance, for example, is expected to deteriorate to a record low this fiscal year, largely due to rising oil prices boosting imports. Moreover, delayed tax refunds and tighter trade credit standards are seen hitting exports.

On 28 May, a dispute commenced at the World Trade Organization (WTO)—the body responsible for the legal underpinning of international trade—between the U.S. and India. This is because the two countries failed to reach an understanding during the consultations that the U.S. requested in March over India’s export subsidy programs. Under WTO law, countries are permitted to subsidize exports until they reach a certain level of economic development. India surpassed that level in 2015, but the U.S. accused India of continuing those programs. Moreover, in May, the U.S. notified the WTO’s Committee on Agriculture that India appears to have illegally over-subsidized its rice and wheat farmers. Together, these cases point to an assertive U.S. stance against India.

Meanwhile, the U.S. pressured India in other ways in April. First, it announced that it was reviewing the low import tariffs granted to India under its Generalized System of Preferences scheme. Second, it continued to place India on its annual watchlist of countries with concerning standards of intellectual property protection. And, finally, it announced that it would begin monitoring India for possible currency manipulation practices. Furthermore, when the U.S. imposed its global steel and aluminum import tariffs in March, India, like most countries, was not exempt.

All in all, the U.S. appears to be turning up the heat on India over its trade policy practices, mainly to help reduce the large trade deficit it has with the Asian giant. Although this is unlikely to hit the competitiveness of Indian exporters in the short term, the greater concern for them lies in the longer-term consequences of potentially decreased government support and more competition from abroad. The overall effect on the already-poor trade balance is a concern for the broader economy.

Sample Report

5-year economic forecasts on 30+ economic indicators for 127 countries & 30 commodities.


Free sample report

Access essential information in the shortest time possible. FocusEconomics provide hundreds of consensus forecast reports from the most reputable economic research authorities in the world.

Close Left Media Arrows Left Media Circles Right Media Arrows Right Media Circles Arrow Quote Wave Address Email Telephone Man in front of screen with line chart Document with bar chart and magnifying glass Application window with bar chart Target with arrow Line Chart Stopwatch Globe with arrows Document with bar chart in front of screen Bar chart with magnifying glass and dollar sign Lightbulb Document with bookmark Laptop with download icon Calendar Icon Nav Menu Arrow Arrow Right Long Icon Arrow Right Icon Chevron Right Icon Chevron Left Icon Briefcase Icon Linkedin In Icon Full Linkedin Icon Filter Facebook Linkedin Twitter Pinterest