Washington: India's "very high" tariffs on US goods are "unacceptable" and must be withdrawn, President Donald Trump demanded on Thursday ahead of his crucial meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Japan which is likely to be dominated by trade frictions.
President Trump, championing his 'America First' policy has been a vocal critic of India for levying "tremendously high" duties on US products, has described the country as a "tariff king".
"I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high Tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the Tariffs even further. This is unacceptable and the tariffs must be withdrawn!" Trump said in a tweet early this morning.
Trump will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi on Friday on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Japan. This would be his first meeting with Modi after the BJP's landslide win in the general elections.
It comes after the India visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during which he met Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
The Trump-Modi meeting assumes significance in the wake of the strain that has popped up in the bilateral relationship on a host of trade and economic issues.
India has raised tariffs on 28 items, including almond, pulses and walnut, exported from the US in retaliation to America's withdrawal of preferential access for Indian products.
The Trump administration wants Prime Minister Modi to lower the trade barriers and embrace "fair and reciprocal" trade.
Trump has also criticised India's high import tariff on the iconic Harley Davidson motorcycles as "unacceptable" while acknowledging that his "good friend" Prime Minister Modi has reduced it from 100% to 50%.
Last February, India slashed the customs duty on imported motorcycles like Harley-Davidson to 50% after Trump called it "unfair" and threatened to increase the tariff on import of Indian bikes to the US.
The government on June 21 last year decided to impose these duties in retaliation to the US decision of significantly hiking customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products. America, in March last year, imposed 25% tariff on steel and a 10% import duty on aluminium products.
As India is one of the major exporters of these items to the US, the move has revenue implication of about $240 million on domestic steel and aluminium products.
India has also dragged the US to the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism over the imposition of import duties on steel and aluminium.
India exports steel and aluminium products worth about $1.5 billion to the US every year. India's exports to the US in 2017-18 stood at $47.9 billion, while imports were at $26.7 billion. The trade balance is in favour of India.
The US and China have been locked in a bruising trade war since Trump imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items from China in March last year, a move that sparked fears of a global trade war.
Trump has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and China has retaliated with tariffs on US goods.
In response, China imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of American imports.