No zero-sum games: on India-U.S. trade hostilities

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No zero-sum games: on India-U.S. trade hostilities

India and the U.S. must work to halt trade hostilities urgently
There are alarm bells in India over a possible decision by the U.S. Trade Representative to withdraw the Generalised System(सामान्यीकृत प्रणाली) of Preferences(पसंद/वरीयताएँ ) status. Under this, India is able to export about 2,000 product lines to the U.S. under zero tariff. The revocation of the GSP, which was first extended(विस्तृत/विस्तारित) to India in 1976 as part of a global concession by the U.S. to help developing(विकासशील ) countries build(निर्माण ) their economies, will be a blow to Indian exporters(निर्यातकों), and the biggest in a series of measures(उपाय कार्यवाही) taken by the Trump administration against India to reduce(कम करने ) its trade deficit(व्यापार घाटा।). President Donald Trump’s case on what he calls “unequal tariffs” from India rests on the trade(व्यापार ) relationship(संबंध) in favour(पक्ष ) of India: Indian exports to the U.S. in 2017-18 stood at $47.9 billion, while imports(आयात ) were $26.7 billion. The measures are in line with Mr. Trump’s campaign(अभियान /मुहिम) promises. On the matter of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, he spoke directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on at least three occasions(अवसरों/हालत), demanding that India zero out tariffs to match U.S. rates on Indian motorcycles. In March 2018, the U.S. began imposing(प्रभावशाली/शानदार) tariffs on several(कई ) Indian products, and in April, the USTR began a review of India’s GSP status, based(आधार ) on complaints(शिकायतों ) of trade barriers(रूकावटें) from India it had received from the dairy industry and manufacturers of medical devices. In November the U.S. withdrew GSP status on at least 50 Indian products.

In retaliation(विरोध में,), India proposed tariffs of about $235 million on 29 American goods, but has put off implementing(कार्यान्वयन/पूर्ति करते हुए) these five times in the past year in the hope that a negotiated(बातचीत ) trade settlement(समझौता/बंदोबस्त) will come through. The latest deadline expires on March 1. India has also attempted to address the trade deficit with purchase of American oil, energy and aircraft. There have been dozens of rounds of talks between officials over the past few months, but no breakthrough(सफलता /दरार). U.S. officials say the decision on data localisation(स्थानीयकरण) for all companies operating in India, and the more recent tightening norms for FDI in e-commerce have aggravated(भड़काना/बिगाड़ना) the situation. Both sides should work towards(की ओर/की तरफ़) calling a halt to trade hostilities(शत्रुता/यद्ध के कार्य) and speed up efforts for a comprehensive(विस्तृत/व्यापक) trade “package”, rather than try to match each concern(चिंता/मामला) product by product. The U.S. must realise(महसूस ) that India is heading into elections, and offer more flexibility(लचीलापन/लचक) in the next few months. India must keep in mind that the larger, global picture is about U.S.-China trade issues(मुद्दे), and if a trade deal with the U.S. is reached, India could be the biggest beneficiary(लाभार्थी) of business deals lost by China. The visit of U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to India this week will be watched not as much for substance(पदार्थ ), as for signals that New Delhi and Washington understand the urgency(तत्परता) in breaking(तोड़ना) the deadlock(गतिरोध/रोक)

 

 

Important Vocabulary

1. Preferences(पसंद/वरीयताएँ )
Synonyms: choice, desire, inclination, option, predilection
Antonyms: dislike, hate, rejection, disfavor, equality

2.Developing(विकासशील )
Synonyms: advance, establish, evolve, expand, flourish
Antonyms: decline, decrease, halt, lessen, retreat

3. Deadlock(गतिरोध/रोक)
Synonyms: dilemma, gridlock, plight, predicament, standoff
Antonyms: good fortune, solution, advantage, continuation, start

4. Settlement(समझौता/बंदोबस्त)
Synonyms: agreement, arrangement, compensation, contract, deal
Antonyms: disagreement, misunderstanding, beginning, denial, introduction

5. Breakthrough(सफलता /दरार).
Synonyms: boost, development, discovery, finding, gain
Antonyms: decline, decrease, loss, step back, step backward

6. Urgency(तत्परता)
Synonyms: importance, seriousness, exigency, insistence, need

7. Aggravated(भड़काना/बिगाड़ना)
Synonyms: bother, irritate, provoke, bug, bum
Antonyms: aid, delight, help, please, calm

8. Flexibility(लचीलापन/लचक)
Synonyms:resilience, affability, complaisance, compliance, docility
Antonyms: constraint, inelasticity, inflexibility, resistance

9. Concern(चिंता/मामला)
Synonyms: burden, interest, involvement, matter, thing
Antonyms: entertainment, fun, pastime, unemployment, disinterest

10. Retaliation(विरोध में,)
Synonyms: punishment, reprisal, retribution, revenge
Antonyms: forgiveness, pardon, sympathy

 


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India and the U.S. must work to halt trade hostilities urgently
The detention of five people under the National Security Act in Madhya Pradesh last week, all of them alleged to have committed offences related to cattle laws, amounts to gross misuse of a law meant solely to prevent activities that endanger the country’s security or public order. India has unfortunately become habituated to the abuse of preventive detention laws. In recent times, they have been wrongly invoked against political dissenters and vocal critics, with total disregard for constitutional freedoms. The latest instances point to a new form of misuse. This is possibly the first time that a law that provides for a maximum of one year in prison through an executive order without trial or bail is being used against those suspected of offences against cows. The implications are terrifying. It means that law-enforcers will stop at nothing to demonstrate ideological adherence to majoritarian beliefs. This poses a grave danger to the freedom of movement and vocation, as well as the dietary choices, of sections of society that do not share the majority community’s reverence for the cow. In the first case in Khandwa district, the police, who recovered a cow carcass, traced three men who had allegedly killed the animal. In the second case, authorities in Agar Malwa district claim there was some disturbance due to two men who were allegedly transporting cows. The ostensible reason to book them under the NSA is that they were likely to cause disruption of peace. This is too flimsy a ground to invoke so stringent a law, especially when there is no evidence of security or order being under grave threat.

In its order last year directing a series of measures against mob violence and public lynching, of which those transporting cows were frequent victims, the Supreme Court had warned against the dangers of a socio-political framework based on disrespect for an inclusive social order, and wanted the state to take preventive and remedial measures. In its apparent eagerness to prevent incidents that may lead to a communal backlash, the Madhya Pradesh government is detaining potential victims to prevent them from indulging in provocative acts! In invoking the NSA in respect of minor offences, solely out of fear of aggressive protests by right-wing Hindu groups, the Congress regime in Madhya Pradesh is displaying utter cravenness. It is not clear why the police is not content with prosecuting them under laws that ban cow slaughter. There is some unease among Congress leaders over these actions of the party’s new government in the State. However, it is not enough for the party to voice mild disapproval of the Kamal Nath regime’s actions: its leadership has to denounce the gross misuse of the law to mollify cow vigilantes and the short-sighted aim of neutralising the BJP’s campaign that the Congress is against Hindu beliefs. The State government must revoke the detention.