U.S. Markets closed

India likely to postpone raising tariffs on U.S. goods

A worker walks near containers stacked at the Chennai port October 26, 2009. REUTERS/Babu/Files

By Manoj Kumar

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India plans to delay the imposition of retaliatory duties on U.S. goods, the trade ministry said on Thursday, to allow time to resolve disputes that worsened after President Donald Trump imposed tariff hikes on steel and aluminium.

In June, New Delhi, incensed by Washington's refusal to exempt it from these new tariffs, announced it would raise import tax on some U.S. products including almonds, walnuts and apples.

An Indian commerce ministry spokesman said the government proposed to put the new tariffs, which were due to go into effect on Aug. 4, on hold.

Trade differences between India and the United States have been rising since Trump took office. Bilateral trade rose to $115 billion in 2016, but the Trump administration wants to reduce its $31 billion deficit with India, and is pressing New Delhi to ease trade barriers.

"The Ministry of Commerce has suggested to the department of revenue to amend the notification for further extension of retaliatory measures for 45 days," Monideepa Mukherjee, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told Reuters.

India bought more than half all U.S. almond shipments in 2017 and a U.S. trade body had said New Delhi's plan to impose higher duties was a matter of concern.

India has proposed to buy petroleum products from the U.S. to help narrow the trade deficit. The United States has also emerged as a top arms supplier to India and U.S. companies are bidding for military aircraft deals worth billions of dollars.

(Additional reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Nick Macfie)