(Adapted with additional US sources)
By Neha Arora, Shivangi Acharya and David Lawder
NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) – India has asked the United States for an exemption from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs in exchange for the removal of some tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods, but Washington is not seriously considering the offer, sources familiar with the discussions said. said.
Negotiators in New Delhi and Washington have been in talks, hoping to reach a deal during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States later this month, with Indian officials offering to withdraw retaliatory tariffs on some agricultural products such as almonds and walnuts, two Indian sources said.
“India raised the issue, but the US team pushed them back pretty quickly, so that’s not being considered right now,” a US source familiar with the talks told Reuters.
“US officials have been very clear with India in meetings that they are not considering an exemption for India from the Section 232 tariffs,” the source added, declining to be identified.
An Indian government source said US negotiators were not “flexible”, although there were expectations that some form of agreement would be reached during Modi’s visit.
“The prime minister (Modi) is visiting and until then they (US) want to come up with something good, which looks positive for both sides,” the source said.
India is also willing to discuss other possible trade measures that US officials may propose, another Indian government source said.
India’s commerce ministry did not respond to an email seeking comment. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which administers the Section 232 tariffs, declined to comment on the matter.
Indian officials did not want to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump imposed a 25% tariff on all US steel imports and 10% on aluminum, using Section 232 of the 1962 law that allows the president to restrict imports.
In retaliation, India imposed tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds, apples and walnuts.
Last December, the World Trade Organization ruled that US tariffs imposed by Trump on steel and aluminum imports violated global trade rules, a ruling criticized by Washington.
At a US Congressional Steel Caucus hearing on Wednesday, several steel industry leaders expressed support for keeping the tariffs in place. Kevin Dempsey, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, an industry trade group, told Reuters he did not think the U.S. government would agree to withdraw tariffs. (Reporting by Neha Arora, Shivangi Acharya in New Delhi and David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Susan Fenton)