(Bloomberg) -- India is seeking to raise tariffs on a slew of products imported from the U.S. starting next week, just days ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo aimed at deepening defense and energy ties between the two nations.
The decision to impose tariffs on as many as 29 products will be announced later today or tomorrow, said senior officials on condition of anonymity citing government rules. Items are expected to include almonds, walnuts and pulses, the Press Trust of India reported.
It follows U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision on June 1 to end trade concessions on $5.7 billion of goods India shipped to the U.S. as of 2017. These include imitation jewelry, leather products, pharmaceuticals, chemical and plastics and some farm items.
India’s move sends a message to the U.S. that the "trade partnership will have to be on better terms,” said Bipul Chatterjee, executive director of CUTS International, a Jaipur-based think tank. "Although I wouldn’t say this is an extension of the trade war, it certainly is a skirmish -- and one that will help shape India-U.S. ties going forward.”
Pompeo is scheduled to visit India on June 24. The two countries will also participate at the G-20 meetings in Osaka.
India’s new trade minister Piyush Goyal had last week sought to play down the U.S. decision to withdraw trade benefits, saying the move wasn’t a "life and death" decision for exporters.
Last year India announced higher tariffs on a clutch of items in retaliation against the U.S. by imposing higher levies on some products shipped from the South Asian nation, mirroring steps taken by China and the European Union. New Delhi, however, repeatedly deferred imposition of the new tariffs as it kept the door open for talks to avert a trade war.
A spokeswoman from India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry declined to comment.
The U.S. has separately called for India to remove what Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last month described as “unfavorable treatment” to U.S. companies and an imbalance in India-U.S. trade.
India’s exports to the U.S. in 2018-19 stood at $52.40 billion while imports were $35.54 billion.
(Updates with analyst comment in fourth paragraph.)
--With assistance from Shruti Srivastava.
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