The Congress on Saturday attacked the BJP-led government at the Centre over issues of unemployment and the US' decision to end its preferential trade treatment to India, saying it is a double whammy and urged the government to take steps to tackle the crises.
"The US' decision to end special trade status to India has grave trade and economic implications for our country. It will directly affect 16 per cent of India's exports. This special status was availed by India in 1975 when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. With unemployment at a 45-year high, it is a double whammy," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said at a press conference here.
The US is slated to revoke India's status as a beneficiary developing country for purposes of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) from June 5, according to a proclamation issued by President Donald Trump.
In its response, India downplayed the possibility of any negative impact on trade relations with the US.
"These are unilateral, non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory benefits extended by some developed countries to developing countries. As part of bilateral trade discussions, India had offered resolution on significant US requests in an effort to find a mutually acceptable way forward. It is unfortunate that this did not find acceptance by the United States," said a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
"India, like the United States and other nations shall always uphold its national interest in these matters. We have significant development imperatives and concerns and our people also aspire for better standards of living. This will remain the guiding factor in the government's approach," it said.
India is the biggest beneficiary of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which allows preferential duty-free imports of up to 5.6 billion dollars to the US.
Surjewala claimed that India stopped purchasing 23.5 million tonnes of crude oil annually from Iran due to US pressure.
Accusing BJP of not taking any steps to prevent the move, Surjewala said, "The notification came on March 4. But the government did not do anything to prevent it. In future, we could see many more industries, including services, where exports worth USD 28 billion could be significantly affected."
"We urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a statement on this issue and place before the public a way forward to overcome this grave trade and economic crisis," he added.
The Congress spokesperson said that the party will support steps taken by the government in addressing the unemployment crisis.
"In our country, the job crisis is grave. India's young needs jobs and are facing the worst crisis in the last 45 years. The responsibility lies in the current government to address this issue as a first priority. We will support any step in this direction taken by the Prime Minister in a concrete manner," Surjewala said.
With Lok Sabha elections over, the government on Friday made public the Periodic Labour Force Survey report that placed the unemployment rate at 6.1 per cent for year 2017-18, which is set to be the highest in 45 years.
The PLFS annual report placed the unemployment rate among men at 6.2 per cent and women at 5.7 per cent, combining both rural and urban areas and the overall rate at 6.1 per cent.
The report was prepared by agencies including the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Labour Bureau, Registrar General, and Census Commission.
However, government sources maintained comparing the recent jobs data with past data is faulty and foolish.