March 14, 2018 / 5:32 PM / a year ago

U.S. challenges Indian export subsidies at WTO - official

File Photo: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arrives at the European Commission headquarters ahead of a meeting with Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, to discuss steel overcapacity, in Brussels, Belgium March 10, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Walschaerts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States launched a challenge to Indian export subsidies at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, saying they hurt U.S. companies by letting Indian exporters sell goods more cheaply, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.

India provides exemptions from certain duties, taxes and fees that benefit numerous Indian exporters, including producers of steel products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles and information technology products, Lighthizer’s office said.

“These export subsidy programs harm American workers by creating an uneven playing field on which they must compete,” Lighthizer said in a statement.

“USTR will ... hold our trading partners accountable by vigorously enforcing U.S. rights under our trade agreements and by promoting fair and reciprocal trade through all available tools, including the WTO,” Lighthizer said.

The office of the USTR said export subsidies provide an unfair competitive advantage to the companies that receive them and are prohibited under WTO rules.

A limited exception to the rule is provided for developing countries until they reach a specific economic benchmark, the USTR office said. It said India was initially within the group of developing countries but surpassed the economic benchmark in 2015.

Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Tom Brown

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