Riding on the momentum generated by the India-US 2+2 strategic talks this week, trade officials from both countries are trying to sort out pending contentious issues including the penal import duties on Indian steel and aluminium imposed by Washington.
“Assistant US Trade Representative Mark Linscott and his team of officials will be in India shortly to take the trade talks forward. It is being hoped that the momentum generated by the 2+2 talks this week will help the trade teams sort out sticky issues including the tariffs on steel and aluminium,” a government official told BusinessLine .
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj is expected to take up the issue of the penal duties imposed by the US on Indian steel and aluminium on the ground of security concerns when she hosts her counterpart US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo on Thursday. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will also meet US Defence Secretary James N Mattis as part of the meet. “Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu wants that all niggling issues related to trade should be sorted out simultaneously as India and the US try to improve strategic and bilateral ties through the 2+2 dialogue. Instructions have been given to officials to try their best to sort out trade concerns,” the official said.
Trade teams from both India and the US have been communicating with each other to come to an agreement over the increased duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium imposed by the US earlier this year. India had asked the US to withdraw the “unfair’’ duties and had threatened to impose retaliatory duties on 29 items from the US on August 4, which it subsequently postponed to September 16.
The US, on its part, wants India to reduce the existing bilateral trade imbalance by importing more American goods such as dairy products and medical equipment by changing certain domestic rules which, it says, act as barriers to American exports.