US cuts off India preferential trade access

Donald Trump said in a statement issued late Friday that he wanted greater access for US goods to the giant South Asian nation. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 June 2019

US cuts off India preferential trade access

  • India has been the single biggest beneficiary of the decades-old US Generalized System of Preferences program
  • The US had a $26.7 billion trade deficit with India in 2017-2018

WASHINGTON: The United States will end preferential trade treatment for India from Wednesday, US President Donald Trump has announced, in a fresh economic headwind for New Delhi alongside slowing growth and record unemployment.
India has been the single biggest beneficiary of the decades-old US Generalized System of Preferences program, allowing the country to export $5.7 billion worth of duty-free goods in 2017, according to figures from US Congress.
Trump said in a statement issued late Friday that he wanted greater access for US goods to the giant South Asian nation.
“I have determined that India has not assured the United States that India will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets,” Trump said.
“Accordingly, it is appropriate to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country.”
Trump announced in March that he would be ending the preferential trade accord with India, but did not give a date.
Washington has sought to make India a closer diplomatic ally, but has long complained about limited access to the huge market of 1.3 billion people.
The US had a $26.7 billion trade deficit with India in 2017-2018.
The announcement is the latest headwind to threaten the Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was re-elected to his second term in a landslide just weeks ago after campaigning partly on his record as an economic reformer.
Official figures released Friday showed that India’s growth slowed for the third straight quarter to 5.8% in January-March, while unemployment hit a 45-year high in 2018.
The Indian government made no immediate comment on Washington’s move, but media reports said New Delhi was considering higher import duties on more than 20 US goods including agricultural produce and chemicals.
Indian commerce secretary Anup Wadahan played down the move to end the country’s GSP status in March, saying that preferential trade accounted for a fraction of its nearly $80 million in annual exports to the US.


Conflict-hit Libya to restart oil operations but with low output

Updated 10 July 2020

Conflict-hit Libya to restart oil operations but with low output

  • There is significant damage to the reservoirs and infrastructure
  • A first cargo of 650,000 barrels will be shipped by the Kriti Bastion Aframax tanker

TUNIS: Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) lifted force majeure on all oil exports on Friday as a first tanker loaded at Es Sider after a half-year blockade by eastern forces, but said technical problems caused by the shutdown would keep output low.
“The increase in production will take a long time due to the significant damage to reservoirs and infrastructure caused by the illegal blockade imposed on January 17,” NOC said in a statement.
A first cargo of 650,000 barrels will be shipped by the Kriti Bastion Aframax tanker, chartered by Vitol, which two sources at Es Sider port said had docked and started loading on Friday morning.
The blockade, which was imposed by forces in eastern Libya loyal to Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), has cost the country $6.5 billion in lost export revenue, NOC said.
“Our infrastructure has suffered lasting damage, and our focus now must be on maintenance and securing a budget for the work to be done,” NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in the statement.
Control over Libya’s oil infrastructure, the richest prize for competing forces in the country, and access to revenues, has become an ever-more significant factor in the civil war.
The internationally recognized Government of National Accord, supported by Turkey, has recently pushed back the LNA, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, from the environs of Tripoli and pushed toward Sirte, near the main oil terminals.