The tariff war between China and the United States may affect India negatively, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said in Beijing on Sunday, but refused to take sides.
Kumar was representing India in the Strategic Economic Dialogue with China, which ended on Sunday. During the dialogue, he met his Chinese counterpart He Lifeng, the chairman of China’s top planning body, National Development and Reform Commission.
“India suo motu has been the supporter of the rule-based multilateral trading order,” Kumar said, according to PTI. “India has always taken an independent position on trade issues. While India does not like any measures that harm the rule-based international trade regime, there is no reason to take sides in this.”
He said China and the US had announced their intention to impose tariffs on imports but had not given any dates yet, which showed they were only “posturing”. “I don’t think anybody is interested in a trade war crisis,” he said.
Earlier this month, Beijing had imposed tariffs on 128 American products worth around $3 billion in response to the US imposing duties on steel and aluminium imports from China as part of President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy. China later announced an increase in tariff on $50 billion worth of American goods as the US said it intended to raise tariffs on a similar amount of Chinese goods.
“If war happens, elephants fight and grass gets affected,” Kumar said on the impact the trade war would have on India. “We are part of the grass. We don’t want that.”
The Strategic Economic Dialogue resumed this year after it had been cancelled in 2017 when the troops of India and China were locked in a stand-off in Doklam – an area claimed by both China and Bhutan with India backing the latter.
Kumar said the Indian delegation told China that it would not compromise on its stand on the One Belt One Road initiative, as it was a matter of sovereignty. He also said China had shown interest in joining the International Solar Alliance, whose first conference was co-hosted by India and France in March.