India, the world’s biggest buyer of U.S. almonds, has raised import duties on the commodity by 20 percent, a government order said, joining the European Union and China in retaliating against President Donald Trump’s tariff hikes on steel and aluminum.
New Delhi, incensed by Washington’s refusal to exempt it from the new tariffs, also imposed a 120 percent duty on the import of walnuts in the strongest action yet against the United States.
The move to increase tariffs from August 4 will also cover a slew of other farm, steel and iron products.
It came a day after the European Union said it would begin charging 25 percent import duties on a range of U.S. products on Friday, in response to the new U.S. tariffs.
India is by far the largest buyer of U.S. almonds, purchasing over half of all U.S. almond shipments in 2017. A kilogramme of shelled almonds will attract duty of as much as 120 rupees ($1.76) instead of the current 100 rupees, the commerce ministry said.
Last month, New Delhi sought an exemption from the new U.S. tariffs, saying its steel and aluminum exports were small in relation to other suppliers. But its request was ignored, prompting India to launch a complaint against the United States at the World Trade Organisation.
“India’s tariff retaliation is within the discipline of trade tariffs of the World Trade Organisation,” said steel secretary, Aruna Sharma.
Trade differences between India and the United States have been rising since U.S. President Donald Trump took office. Bilateral trade rose to $115 billion in 2016, but the Trump administration wants to reduce its $31 billion deficit with India, and is pressing New Delhi to ease trade barriers.
Earlier this year, Trump called out India for its duties on Harley-Davidson motorbikes, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to cut the import duty to 50 percent from 75 percent for the high-end bikes.
But that has not satisfied Trump, who pointed to zero duties for Indian bikes sold in the United States and said he would push for a “reciprocal tax” against countries, including U.S. allies, that levy tariffs on American products.
In the tariff rates issued late on Wednesday, the commerce ministry named some varieties of almonds, apples, chickpeas, lentils, walnuts and artemia that would carry higher import taxes. Most of these are purchased from the United States.