The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said it had no announcement of a trade action at the moment but continued to raise market access concerns with India, reacting to media reports last week that the U.S. was considering launching a 301 probe against India.

“We continue to communicate to India that U.S. exporters are encountering significant tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede U.S. access to the Indian market across sectors, including both goods and services,” the office of the USTR told The Hindu via email.

A 301 probe can be wide in scope and can result in the U.S. imposing tariffs or taking other trade action against its trading partners if the parties do not come to a settlement.

The USTR’s comments came on a day India said it would take retaliatory action against the U.S.’s tariffs on steel and aluminium (from 2018), by imposing tariffs on 29 goods from June 16. The tariffs will cause the U.S. a tax burden of $220-$290 million.

While the USTR’s comments suggest that any trade action may be on hold at the moment, a former U.S. official who did not want to be named, told The Hindu last week that in a 301 probe was likely to be launched against India within the next six months unless substantive progress was made on trade issues. Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal would have to show a willingness to fix trade issues and also have proposed fixes ready, the former official said.

In August 2017, the USTR initiated an investigation of China under Section 301 of the U.S.’s Trade Act of 1974 . In April 2018, the USTR official announced it made a determination based on its investigation and proposed tariff action. The first set of tariffs kicked off in July 2018.
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