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Commerce Minister Goyal to finalise mini-trade package with USTR Lighthizer next week

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on November 08, 2019 Published on November 08, 2019

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal

Also, he will attend BRICS Trade Ministers’ meet in Brazil

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is scheduled to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington next week to discuss the mini-trade package being negotiated between the two and also travel to New York and San Francisco to meet industry representatives.

“The trade package that was discussed in depth between the trade teams of both countries during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US last month could not be finalised due to some minor disagreements. Hopefully, Goyal and Lighthizer will be able to iron out the finer points in their meeting,” an official told BusinessLine.

Goyal will also travel to Brasila, before heading to Washington, where he will participate in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Trade Ministers’ meet on November 11 ahead of the BRICS Summit to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India and the US are looking at addressing only a handful of issues this time round but may work on a bigger free trade agreement at a later stage, as stated by the leaders in both countries.

In the smaller package being finalised, the US wants India to lower import duties on some items such as mobile phones, high-end motorbikes like Harley Davidsons, apples, almonds and dairy items and also lower pricing restrictions for medical equipment manufacturers.

India, on the other hand, is more on the defensive and wants Washington to restore Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) benefits for its exporters that was withdrawn earlier this year and roll-back unilateral import duties imposed on aluminium and steel last year. It is also hopeful of getting increased market access for certain agricultural goods including fruits and vegetables.

The Minister will also travel to New York and San Francisco to meet both Indian and US companies to discuss problems and prospects, the official added.

The US is one of India’s largest trading partners and bilateral trade is projected to grow to $ 238 billon by 2025 from about $ 90 billion at present, acccording to estimates made by the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum.

Sectors like defence trade, commercial aircrafts, oil and LNG, coal, machinery and electronics are areas of potential growth in US investments and commerce into India. Indian industry has an opportunity to promote automotive, pharmaceuticals, seafood, IT and travel services to the US market.

Discussions at the BRICS Trade Ministers meet will focus on issues such as trade cooperation, investment facilitation, e-commerce, MSMEs and intellectual property rights. “Deliberations on the current global economic and trade environment, challenges facing the multilateral trading system, ways of advancing the BRICS trade and investment cooperation will also take place,” the official said.

Goyal will be on the tour of Brazil and US from November 9 to November 14.

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Published on November 08, 2019
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