Erosion of open market global trading rules will cost all of us: Sunil Mittal

Sunil Bharti Mittal

Amidst the geo-political tension of trade war, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, International Chamber of Commerce criticised the move to hike tariffs on imports by the United States and said any adverse change in the open, multilateral trading system would hurt all countries.

“Open markets underpinned by the rules-based multilateral trading system have been a vital driver of prosperity across the world over the past 50 years. Any erosion of that system will come at quite a cost to us all,” Mittal said in a statement here on Tuesday.

“Tariff hikes will inevitably impact small businesses that often rely heavily on imported goods and services. Longstanding US trade policies, such as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), have been shown to play a key role in supporting the growth of domestic small businesses and associated job creation,” he added.

The US, blaming China for intellectual property theft, released a list of 1,300 products that could possibly be imposed with a tariff of 25 per cent — worth a total of $50 billion — unless China mended it ways. The very next day China came up with a list of US imports that could be charged with a 25 percent tariff, again worth approximately $50 billion.

US President Donald Trump retaliated the following day saying that the US government is considering imposition of tariffs on another $100 billion of Chinese imports. In response, China warned on Friday that it was ready with a “fierce counter-strike” of fresh trade measures if Trump follows through on his threat and that it would fight the US “at any cost”.

Mittal further said: “A progressive closing of the world’s largest economy to trade will damage both US and global growth prospects. In an interconnected world, international commerce cannot be governed by zero-sum policy decisions. We encourage the US and all its trading partners to find new ways to resolve ongoing trade tensions through multilateral dialogue — and without recourse to further tariff increase.”

On Tuesday, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said India is engaged with the US in “working out” issues arising from the the latter’s last month protectionist measures of raising duties on steel and aluminium imports.