Modi, Trump want bilateral trade talks to re-start soon: Official

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on August 29, 2019

Ice-breaker The Modi-Trump talks on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Osaka covered a range of issues

India-US trade talks at the level of Trade Ministers is likely to re-start soon with US President Donald Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi deciding to move things ahead as soon as possible following their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-7 talks in France this week, a government official said.

“The Ministry of External Affairs has indicated to the Commerce Ministry the decision taken by PM Modi and US President Trump at their meeting in France. Now it has to prepare for the talks,” a government official told BusinessLine.

The two countries were negotiating a trade deal to address mutual concerns in areas of trade and investment when the talks got derailed following Washington’s decision to withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences Scheme for India in June depriving Indian exporters duty-free access to the US market for over 3,000 goods.

New Delhi, which had been putting off imposition of tit-for-tat tariffs on the US as a retaliation for unilateral tariffs imposed on its steel and aluminium by Washington last year, went ahead and notified additional import tariffs on 28 items from the US, including apples and walnuts.

“We hope that this time the trade talks do re-start in proper earnest and don’t fizzle out like the last attempt. It is important for US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal to meet to put life back into the discussions,” another official said.

When Trump and Modi had met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in June, they had agreed to resume the trade talks. In fact Trump had said that a “very big trade deal’’ with India was on the cards.

However, a meeting between a team of officials from the USTR’s office and the Indian Commerce Ministry in July remained inconclusive.

Trump has been putting pressure on India to bring down the trade deficit between the two countries by importing more from the US.

Published on August 29, 2019

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