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India's High Import Duties Could Harm U.S. Ties

[2012-03-27 10:19:46]

Terming the Indian import duties as 'too high', the US on Monday asked India to lower tariffs as high rates "could harm" the bilateral trade and economic ties.

US Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who is here on a five-day official visit, asked India to ease restrictions on imports of products like medical equipment, fruits and capital goods.

"It would be a miss, if I would not mention about the barriers which still exist in building our economic relationship. For example, there are many tariffs on American products which are still too high," he said at a Ficci event.

He further said if India does not accept US products and strategic investments "our progress together could slow down and in the long-term that could cause meaningful harm".

Meanwhile, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma in his meeting with Bryson raised concerns over high rate of visa rejections by America.

"There have been concerns over the high rate of visa rejections last year. There is a 28 per cent decline," Sharma told reporters after the meeting.

Both the ministers also discussed the issue of FDI In multi-brand retail. "They (the US) are aware of our decision (on the retail)," he added.

Further, Bryson said that India's high import duties on the US products are impacting American businesses.

Bryson, who is leading a 16-member business delegation, will also visit Jaipur and Mumbai.

"Capital goods such as power generation equipment face a basic duty of 7.5 per cent and effective rate of 22 per cent. Grapes, citrus and other fruits face a 30 per cent duty," Bryson said, adding that India's sourcing provisions in sectors like IT, electronics and solar energy are also tough.

"This makes it harder to invest in India, if India is not able to readily accept the US products...," the US Commerce Secretary said.

India, Bryson demanded, should provide a more level-playing field for US businesses.

India also needs to build on its effort to support more accountability, transparency and integrity in its commercial actions, he said adding India should join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).

"Allow more competition by joining WTO agreement on government procurement. This agreement has important provisions that support greater openness", he said.

India is an observer of the GPA which deals with the issues relating to government purchases.

"...Both the countries should send a clear message that the two democratic coutures are serious global business leaders and in the 21st century, we are committed to fairness, openness and transparency and level playing field," he added.

Talking about India's massive demand for infrastructure, he said that both the countries can work together in sectors like rail, road, aviation and energy.

"The US has the largest road system in the world and India's plans to dramatically expand its road network, American companies can help here....American businesses are ready to help to improve energy transmission and distribution and also help in the development of renewable energy," he added.

One of the company, which is a part of the visiting business delegation, is already providing services for the Mumbai airport upgradation, he said.
Source: Dnaindia
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