US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Cancels India Visit Amid Trade Tensions
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross | (Photo: Youtube grab)

Toronto, February 14: The Trump Administration’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who was scheduled to visit New Delhi on February 14 has cancelled his trip. The reason provided for the cancellation at the last minute was ‘inclement weather and logistical issues.’

"Due to inclement weather, technical problems that led to the cancellation of his flight and other logistical issues, Secretary Ross regrets he is no longer able to attend the CEO Forum and Commercial Dialogue in person," the spokesman for the Department of Commerce said. He added that Ross would participate remotely.

Ross was to co-chair the Forum with India’s Commerce minister Suresh Prabhu. Due to the cancelled visit, US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster will lead the discussions for the India US CEO Forum and the Commercial Dialogue.

The US Commerce Secretary’s visit was seen as a crucial one as US President Donald Trump has repeatedly targeted India in recent months for the trade imbalance between the two countries and what he calls are unfair trade policies for American businesses. Trump has repeatedly slammed India’s import duties on US goods, particularly on products like Harley-Davidson (HOG) motorcycles and imported spirits. Last month, Trump took aim at India's 150% tariff on imported whiskey saying, "India is a very high tariff. They charge us a lot of tariffs," he said at a White House event.

The Trump Administration has been talking about removing India from the GSP programme (Generalized System of Preferences) that allows it to export certain goods such as jewellery, vehicle parts and electric motors without being charged any import tariffs by the U.S., according to Reuters. Read: India Wants to Have Trade Deal with U.S. to Avoid Tariffs, says Donald Trump

The U.S. also has a trade imbalance with India amounting to US $20 billion. India exported goods worth more than $50 billion to the United States last year and imported US products worth about $30 billion, according to the US Census Bureau.

The United States Trade Representative spokesperson did not comment on India's potential removal from the GSP, and India's Ministry of Commerce has not commented on the cancelled visit.