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Indian govt stands by equalisation levy, even as lobby groups call it discriminatory in submissions to the US Trade Representative

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India’s equalisation levy “does not discriminate against non-resident e-commerce operators” and its imposition “is entirely consistent with India’s commitments under the WTO and international taxation agreements”, the government of India wrote in its response to the US Trade Representative’s investigation into digital services taxes under Section 301 of the US Trade Act. Submitted by Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, the Minister of Commerce in the Indian Embassy in the US, the submission took note of the investigation “with regret”. However, most industry bodies called the levy discriminatory. Going against the grain, IBM said that this Section 201 investigation was not the best way to resolve the issue and instead said that the US should participate in the OECD discussions. On June 2, the United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had started an investigation into digital services taxes that have been adopted or are under consideration by a number of US’ trading partners. This investigation is being conducted under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act which gives the USTR authority to investigate and respond to another country’s actions that may be unfair or discriminatory and negatively affect American commerce. Countries under investigation include India, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, the EU, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK. India brought its 2% equalisation levy into effect on April 1, 2020. The USTR had invited comments on the issues covered by the investigation until July 15. The USTR has also requested consultations with the governments of these countries, something which the government of…

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