The government is intending to approach the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) dispute settlement body against the US move to raise import duty on aluminum and steel.
Sources told TOI that detailed discussions have been held in the commerce department. Former officials dealing with WTO were also consulted on the problem. While a section trusts that there is a case for a strong response, another view in the government is to wait for other WTO members to move the conflict settlement body so that India can then join in.
A senior government official said India also needs to be careful, given its huge interest in terms of presence of software and other professionals in the US as well as the big software exports. Software accounts for a small under half the services exports from the country, of which almost 80% is headed for the US, with American companies depending on Indian counterparts as well as professionals.
Trade tensions have incremented in recent months with US President Donald Trump targeting India along with China and other countries. Last week, the US sought consultations with India through the WTO conflict settlement body over half-a-dozen export promotion schemes. American authorities said these schemes were offering subsidies that impacted its business and workers.
Officials said the US action on steel and aluminum had set a dangerous precedent, which had the potential of thwarting a rule-based trading system operating under the WTO regime. They added that presently the government is taking a legal view and a decision on future course of action will be taken soon.