Can’t ensure cheaper oil for India, says US

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 06, 2019

Wilbur Ross, US Commerce Secretary   -  Bloomberg

Jaitley, Prabhu hold talks on trade issues with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has said that his country cannot ensure sale of oil to India at cheaper rates to compensate for Iranian oil, which is now almost out of bounds because of economic sanctions imposed by the Trump regime.

“Oil is owned by private people. So the government cannot force people to make concessionary prices,” Ross said, when asked if the US is considering selling oil to India at a concessional rates to make up for the loss refiners may have to suffer because of inaccessibility of cheaper Iranian oil shipments.

Ross, who is in India with a 100-member strong trade delegation, met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday to deliberate on issues affecting bilateral economic relationship such as the sanctions on Iranian oil, the new FDI rules for e-commerce in India and the proposed withdrawal of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for Indian exporters in the American market.

India is hurt by the economic sanctions against Iranian oil as it was the third largest supplier of oil last year and accounted for 10 per cent of the country’s needs. Discounts offered by Iran on shipping and insurance and a long credit period made the country a preferred supplier.

“Iran is a problem, if you have seen recent terrorism incidents. And we should be doing whatever we can against terrorism,” Ross told the media.

On e-commerce rules

Ross also raised concerns on India’s new e-commerce rules implemented last year which have been opposed vociferously by American e-tail giant Amazon and others such as Flipkart.

India, on its part, is concerned about the proposed GSP withdrawal that could lead to the disappearance of the duty-free access being enjoyed by more than 3,000 items in the American market. New Delhi wants the US to postpone the decision at least till the conclusion of the Lok Sabha elections so that the matter could be thrashed out later.

“Both sides also discussed various outstanding trade issues. Both sides agreed to engage regularly at various levels to resolve outstanding trade issues by exploring suitable solutions, which are mutually beneficial and promote economic development and prosperity in both the countries,” a statement from the Commerce & Industry Ministry said.

Prabhu and Ross appreciated the growing bilateral ties between India and the US across the entire spectrum of trade and commerce, the release said.

“Both sides expressed satisfaction over the progress during the year 2018, with bilateral trade in goods and services registering a growth of 12.6 per cent from $126 billion in 2017 to $142 billion in 2018,” it added.

Published on May 06, 2019

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