India is likely to take up a number of trade concerns with the US, including ones related to non-tariff barriers on agriculture items, delay in issuance of business visas, restoration of GSP benefits and delay in social security pact, at the India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) scheduled on January 13-14 in New Delhi.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal will lead their respective teams at the TPF, sources tracking the development told businessline.

Market access

“Improving market access for agricultural products, like mangoes and grapes, will be a key item on India’s agenda. Although India exports mangoes to the US there are lingering issues related to the irradiation process and inspection. Similarly with grapes, there are protocols that India is finding difficult to meet. These should be addressed,” the source said.

Expediting visas for skilled workers is another area which India is likely to stress on. “India acknowledges that the US is trying to sort out the problem of delay in issuance of work visas. But more needs to be done,” the source said.

Restoration of preferential tariff  benefits for a number of products exported from India under the GSP scheme is also likely to be on the agenda. The GSP benefits were withdrawn by the Trump regime in 2019 and have not been restored yet. In the last TPF meeting, the USTR had said that the request could be considered in relation to the eligibility criteria determined by the US Congress. 

India would also press for fast-tracking of discussions on the long-pending social security pact (totalisation agreement), the source said. Per industry estimates, the agreement could help Indian companies in the US save up to $4 billion in annual social security deposits.

IT hardware items

The USTR may take up the issue of the new ‘import management system’ for IT hardware items such as computers, laptops introduced by India since October 2023. “The USTR had taken up the issue of the new import regime for IT hardware and expressed concerns on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Jaipur earlier this year. It is possible that there may be more discussions on it,” the source said. Strengthening of Intellectual Property Rights is likely to be another priority area for the US.

The US was India’s biggest trading partner in 2022-23 with bilateral trade rising 7.65 per cent to $ 128.55 billion from $ 119.5 billion in 2021-22.