Indo-US trade talks set to resume

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on July 04, 2019 Published on July 04, 2019

Piyush Goyal may meet USTR in Washington

Following the ice-breaking meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump in Osaka recently, trade talks between the two countries are set to resume next week with a trade delegation from the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office likely to visit New Delhi.

“This is to be followed by Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal’s visit to Washington to meet the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, although the dates haven’t been firmed up yet,” a government official told BusinessLine.

The resumption of talks is taking place after Modi and Trump decided to work towards resolving pending trade issues in a meeting last week on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Osaka.

Talks between the Commerce Ministry and the USTR’s office were suspended following Washington’s decision to withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) early last month ending the duty preference given to over 3,000 items exported from India.

The US took the decision to withdraw the benefit as it was unhappy with the market access offered by India in items such as medical equipment, mobile phones, dairy products and wanted it to take more steps to improve the trade imbalance.

Two weeks later, India finally imposed retaliatory duties on 28 American products it had announced in June last year. The tit-for-tat duties are in response to penal tariffs imposed on its steel and aluminium by Washington in March 2018.

Open and productive

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also confirmed in a briefing on Thursday that India and the US would hold trade talks soon. “The two sides will meet soon. I understand trade ministry officials will meet in the next couple of weeks,” Kumar said.

On Modi’s meeting with Trump in Osaka, Kumar said that the discussions were open and productive and a range of issues, including trade, 5G and bilateral defence relations, were taken up.

“It is important to understand that in any relationship that is multi-dimensional like India-US, there are bound to be perspectives where we share a different approach. How we handle it is the key. Going out of the way we agreed that on all the issues we will continue to talk,” Kumar said.

In the area of 5G technology, where the US wants all countries, including India, to exclude Chinese firm Huawei, India clarified that it was not a matter of difference, Kumar said. “It is an issue where we can work together with the US. We have technology. We have the market. We also have to see how we can work together as far as leveraging our individual competence. Perhaps we can work together under the banner of Make in India,” he added.

India’s largest export destination country continues to be the US which accounted for 16 per cent of India’s exports in 2018-19, followed by United Arab Emirates (UAE), China and Hong Kong, as per figures published in the latest Economic Survey.

Published on July 04, 2019
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