Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Thursday expressed a resolve to work together to consider recommendations pertaining to several sectors where the two countries can improve collaboration. The development comes amidst rising trade tensions between the two economies over the last year.
During a telephonic conversation on various aspects of trade and commerce relations, Ross assured to further strengthen ties between the two countries, stated an official release on India-US Commercial Dialogue and India-US CEO Forum.
The US Commerce Secretary, who was to be in India for the dialogue, cancelled his flight late on Wednesday, citing “inclement weather” and “logistical issues” as well as technical problems.
Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran and American Tower Corporation president and CEO James D Taiclet, both chairing the CEO Forum, provided recommendations to improve collaboration on energy, water, environment, information and communication technology, emerging technologies, digital infrastructure, entrepreneurship and inclusive growth, promoting small business, and infrastructure and manufacturing. Ross addressed the CEO Forum by video while US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster led the delegation on the ground.
India and the US also expressed interest in facilitating partnerships among businesses and institutions with a view to encourage best practices, conducive policies, and collaboration for small and medium enterprises in both countries. Both sides also agreed to work together to promote innovation, creativity and technological advancement, noting India’s accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, stated the release. Tensions between India and the US have been on the rise recently, due to factors like India’s potential removal from the US’ Generalised System of Preferences programme and the country’s tariffs on goods like steel and aluminum last March.
Washington has held a negative view of India’s trade deficit with the US, which has come under sharp focus in the last couple of years. In April 2018, the office of the US Trade Representative announced that it was reviewing India’s eligibility for GSP based on concerns about its compliance with the program. “For India, the GSP country eligibility review is based on concerns related to its compliance with the GSP market access criterion,” stated the USTR in its release.
On the other hand, the US is upset with India’s move to tighten its foreign direct investment norms for the e-commerce sector, which deals a blow to American retail giants like Amazon and Walmart as they would have to change their model of operations.
Other moves, like India’s decision to cap maximum retail prices of essential and life-saving medical devices like cardiac stents and knee implants in 2017 had also irked US in the past.