India’s jewelry industry could lose business to rivals such as China and Mexico if the US goes ahead with its proposed new tariffs on the sector, industry leaders warned this week.
Fresh import duties would jeopardize jobs and the well-being of the industry in both India and America, officials from the southern Asian nation said Monday in a meeting with the US Trade Representative (USTR).
The calls come after the USTR threatened to levy punitive tariffs of up to 25% on 17 jewelry categories originating in India, as well as on certain goods from other countries. The action, which it announced in March, was a response to e-commerce taxes in those jurisdictions that targeted online retailers. The proposed tax excludes loose diamonds.
Around 140 members of the Indian trade submitted petitions against the move before the April 30 deadline, the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said Tuesday. The USTR allowed a panel of industry representatives to present comments at the virtual meeting.
Leading the delegation, GJEPC chairman Colin Shah argued that India had already seen a decline in gold-jewelry exports to the US after losing its preferential trade status with the US around 15 years ago. The latest move would exacerbate the situation, he insisted.
“Further [duties] on jewelry will accelerate that drop, and the beneficiaries will be China and Mexico,” Shah told USTR officials.
While Indian jobs would shift to other countries, US jewelry companies would miss out on the long credit and memo facilities that Indian suppliers offer, Shah added. In addition, India jewelry companies operate an estimated 500 offices across the US, employing thousands of locals, he asserted.
India’s exports of gold jewelry to America fell 22% from $1.9 billion in 2007 to $1.49 billion in 2019, according to a report the GJEPC released in March.