Piyush Goyal meets USTR team to take trade talks forward

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 12, 2019 Published on July 12, 2019

US Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster (right) and United States Trade Representative Assistant for South and Central Asia Christopher Wilson at the Parliament house in New Delhi   -  PRAKASH SINGH

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal met a team of senior officials from the US Trade Representative’s office and discussed ways to take forward trade talks by resolving outstanding issues in multiple areas such as tariffs, digital trade, data and intellectual property.

“Met the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) team today to strengthen India-US trade ties. We deliberated on several issues to take our deep, historic and strong relationship to the next level,” Goyal tweeted on Friday after his meeting.

The US is India’s largest trade partner but the Trump regime is unhappy with the annual trade surplus that New Delhi enjoys, although it has shrunk to $17 billion in 2018-19 compared to over $20 billion earlier.

The two sides had been engaged in negotiations for a trade pact to bring down tariffs in identified areas and other trade barriers, but talks went into a lull when both sides initiated trade measures against each other last month.

“With the visit of the trade team from the US and its two-day talks with Indian officials, negotiations seem to be back on track,” a government official said.

The US team, led by Assistant USTR for South & Central Asia, Christopher Wilson, met a mixed team of officials from the Commerce Ministry, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Electronics & IT and others. The meeting was scheduled after Trump and Prime Minister met in Osaka last month on the sidelines of the G-20 conference and decided to instruct their trade teams to re-start talks.

The US has been pressing India to bring down the tariffs on a number of products such as smartphones, other IT and telecom items and Harley Davidson motorbikes. Other areas that are being discussed include e-commerce rules, data localisation and IPR.

Published on July 12, 2019
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