WASHINGTON: The US today challenged Indian export subsidies schemes at the World Trade Organisation, saying these programmes harm American workers by creating an "uneven" playing field, officials said.
The US Trade Representative (USTR) argued that at least half a dozen Indian programmes provide financial benefits to Indian exporters, which allow them to sell their goods more cheaply to the detriment of American workers and manufacturers.
These programs are: the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme; Export Oriented Units Scheme and sector specific schemes, including Electronics Hardware Technology Parks Scheme, Special Economic Zones, Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme and Duty Free Imports for Exporters Programme.
"These export subsidy programmes harm American workers by creating an uneven playing field on which they must compete," said Lighthizer.
"USTR will continue to hold our trading partners accountable by vigorously enforcing US rights under our trade agreements and by promoting fair and reciprocal trade through all available tools, including the WTO," Lighthizer said.
The announcement from Lighthizer came while Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale was on his maiden visit to the US . He was scheduled to hold meetings with the USTR.
In a statement, the USTR alleged that through these programmes, India is given exemption from certain duties, taxes, and fees which benefits numerous Indian exporters, including producers of steel products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, information technology products, textiles, and apparel.
According to the Indian government documents, thousands of Indian companies are receiving benefits totaling to over $7 billion annually from these programs.
The USTR said export subsidies provide an unfair competitive advantage to recipients.