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India to hit U.S. with retaliatory tariffs

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Workers apply fiberglass to the resin frame of a boat at Regal Marine Industries in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, July 11, 2018. Some U.S. manufacturers are feeling the impact of tariffs of up to 25 percent that the Trump administration has imposed on thousan -
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John Raoux
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NEW DELHI - India will impose higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 U.S. products including almonds, apples and walnuts from Sunday, following Washington's withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.

The new duties take effect from Sunday, a government notification said, in the latest trade row since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in 2017 vowing to act against countries with which Washington has a large trade deficit.

From June 5, President Trump scrapped trade privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for India, the biggest beneficiary of a scheme that allowed duty-free exports of up to $5.6 billion.

India termed that "unfortunate" and vowed to uphold its national interests.

India was preparing to levy higher tariffs ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first meeting with Trump on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Japan on June 28 and 29.

India initially issued an order in June last year to raise import taxes as high as 120% on a slew of U.S. items, incensed by Washington's refusal to exempt it from higher steel and aluminum tariffs.

But New Delhi repeatedly delayed raising tariffs as the two nations engaged in trade talks. Trade between them stood at about $142.1 billion in 2018.

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India on Saturday amended its previous order "to implement the imposition of retaliatory duties on 28 specified goods originating in or exported from USA" while preserving the existing rate for these goods for all other countries, the government notification said.

Higher Indian tariffs on U.S. goods could impact growing political and security ties between the two nations.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is expected to visit India this month, said this week the United States was open to dialogue to resolve trade differences with India, through greater access for American companies to its markets.

India is by far the largest buyer of U.S. almonds, paying $543 million for more than half of U.S. almond exports in 2018, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows. It is the second largest buyer of U.S. apples, taking $156 million worth in 2018.

New Delhi's new rules in areas such as e-commerce and data localization have already angered the United States and hit companies such as Amazon.com, Walmart Inc, Mastercard and Visa, among others.