Short-term issues shouldn’t be allowed to hurt India-US trade relations: US official

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on May 10, 2019 Published on May 10, 2019

Ian Steff, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the US and Foreign Commerce Service for the US Department of Commerce   -  Debasish Bhaduri/Kolkata

Short-term issues such as those involving e-commerce policy, data localisation, high tariffs and price barriers on medical devices threaten to “slow down” trade relations between India and the US, according to Ian Steff, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the US and Foreign Commerce Service for the US Department of Commerce.

“These challenges are surmountable,” he said here on Friday, adding that relations between the two countries can be taken to the “next level”.

Steff is part of US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s delegation to India, which also includes over 100 American companies.

“Whether it is e-commerce issues or high tariffs, these are issues that threaten to slow down the trade relationship that we intend to build. This is something that we need to take care of. I think we can do so together,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a programme here organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.

Referring to India’s draft e-commerce policy, Steff observed that some of the proposed regulations have not received the type of consultations that are needed with “large investors” — not just US-based ones, but also Indian entrepreneurs.

However, the sector has already seen a “great commercial relationship” between consumers and those willing to sell (online), he added.

US companies have reportedly raised concerns over India’s draft e-commerce policy and issues related with mandatory data localisation requirements.

There are apprehensions that the policy favours domestic players and denies a level-playing field for US firms such as Amazon and Walmart.

To a question on the US’ General System of Preferences (GSP), Steff said there was “a need to really deal with these issues in a substantiated manner” so that it “encourages” industry on both sides and there is a flow of addition investment.

“I am encouraged that there is seriousness to discuss some of these issues that have really prohibited us from taking the relationship (to the next level),” he added.

Published on May 10, 2019

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.