India justifies duty-free benefit from US
New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) India has justified the continuation of the generalised system of preferences (GSP) regime, a duty-free trade benefit made available to developing countries, as the US reviews the programme for the next year.
The justification comes as the US has written to 13 beneficiary countries, such as India, inviting comments as to why the programme should not be suspended or withdrawn, Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said.
"Out of $18.8 billion of US's imports from India, $4.17 billion were duty free under the generalised system of preferences programme in 2005," Ramesh said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, Tuesday.
According to commerce ministry officials, the government has submitted detailed petitions justifying the continuation of the trade benefit to India and has also taken up the issue during bilateral meetings held from time to time.
Washington sought the justification, since countries with an annual GSP use of over $100 million, or which accounted for more than 0.25 percent of the world's merchandise exports, have been placed under the upper middle income category.
But the GSP benefits, extended by the US since 1976 for duty-free entry of more than 4,500 products from 144 countries, is generally not available to countries defined as upper middle-income nations.
On both counts India is an upper middle-income nation.
In 2004, the 10 top GSP beneficiary countries were India, Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia, Turkey, Philippines, South Africa, Venezuela, Argentina, and Russia, according to data with the US Trade Representative's office.
They collectively exported goods worth $14.6 billion in goods to the US - nearly 70 percent of the products receiving GSP duty-free benefits. The remaining 129 GSP beneficiary countries exported $8.1 billion in goods duty-free to the US.