India to discuss issue of import curbs with US: Suresh Prabhu

Kriti Mishra

File Photo of Union Minister for Commerce & Industry Suresh Prabhu.

File Photo of Union Minister for Commerce & Industry Suresh Prabhu.

India will bilaterally take up the issue of import curbs on steel with the United States, Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Tuesday. Speaking at the conclusion of Informal WTO Ministerial Meet, Prabhu stressed that unilateral trade measures taken by any country harm global trade.

US President Donald Trump has pressed ahead with import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent for aluminium, but exempted Canada and Mexico and offered the possibility of excluding other allies.

India’s steel and aluminum exports to the US amount to about $1.5 billion and account for about 2 per cent of US’ total steel and aluminum imports.

The 2-day informal World Trade Organisation Ministerial meet is organised with an aim to strengthen the multi-lateral trade body.

“Our meeting today is an initiative by India to facilitate free and frank exchange of views on all issues of common interest as well as seeking to address the challenges,” Suresh Prabhu said.

In the Informal WTO Ministerial Meet, a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes was identified as an area of priority. India has been keenly pushing agriculture issues at the WTO.

Speaking at the occasion, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo, said, “We are facing many challenges in the WTO and outside. Trade environment globally is very risky at this point of time. We will try to have an open and honest conversation at the informal WTO meeting here…”

The meeting would also discussed the issue of appointment of members of the appellate body of the WTO’s dispute settlement body.

The meeting was convened by India in the aftermath of failure of the trade talks at Buenos Aires last year on account of differences among the members of the WTO. The talks had collapsed after the US went back on its commitment to find a permanent solution to the public food stockholding issue, a key matter for India.