Iran oil imports, trade gap, defence collaboration to feature in Indo-US 2+2 talks

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on September 04, 2018 Published on September 04, 2018

India to import oil worth $2.5 bn from US in this calendar year

India’s continued oil imports from Iran in the light of the US sanctions kicking in from November, steps taken by the country to lower its trade surplus with Washington and defence collaborations will feature prominently in New Delhi’s agenda in the first Indo-US 2+2 dialogue on Thursday, a government official has said.

Immigration-related issues and cooperation in counter-terrorism operations will be the other prominent areas that will be discussed by the Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, and Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, in their talks with their respective American counterparts, US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo, and Defence Secretary James N Mattis.

“The Indo-US 2+2 talks is a major diplomatic event, which builds on the relationship we had with the US before the Trump regime came to power, and takes it forward effectively. We hope to discuss all issues of importance to both countries at the meeting,” the official told BusinessLine.

New Delhi hopes to “sensitise’’ the US on the issues faced by India in the area of oil imports and the important role Iran has to play. “We want to make the point that India is heavily reliant on oil imports for its consumption needs and 83 per cent of its oil comes from external sources. Of this about 25 per cent is imported from Iran, which has been a reliable and cost-effective source,” the official said.

India would also want to discuss alternative sources of crude with a focus on prices. “Pricing of oil imports is very important for India as a number of factors such as economic growth and inflationary trends ares tied to it,” the official said.

There is also the problem of making technical adjustments to refineries in case a new form of crude is imported as it would require time, effort, and resources, the official added.

On the US concern on trade deficit with India, New Delhi plans to bring to the notice of the US senior officials that it has taken steps to increase imports from the country and as a result, the deficit had gone down by over $1 billion last year. “We will be importing oil worth $2.5 billion from the US this year. Washington has to appreciate these efforts being made by India,” the official said.

Published on September 04, 2018
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