14 June, 2021

Oil On Troubled Gears

Global trade wars are impacting exports and domestic prices, but also presenting opportunities

Oil On Troubled Gears

In 2007, US President George Bush Jr, a Republican, was angry about India’s stand regarding the iconic American bike Harley Davidson. In a major Harley-for-mango deal that year, India allowed investments by the American manufacturer in return for free entry of Indian mangoes in the US market. A decade later, another Republican President ranted against the high Indian import duties on Harley Davidson and maintained his displeasure even when the duty was halved. Donald Trump dubbed India a global “tariff king”.

The motorcycle became a contentious issue in the ongoing trade war between the two nations, but it was not a matter of numbers or money. Harley sold bikes only in the thousands every year in India and it ­employed a few thousand workers in the US. For Trump, as it was for Bush, the bike represented American culture and was a hit among its core voters. Thus, politics and cultural issues ­enmeshed with economic diplomacy and global trade.

In fact, this is true for the ongoing trade wars that India unleashed—or was forced to do...

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