India and the US have agreed to work towards “mutually beneficial” outcomes aimed at addressing mutual trade concerns and growing economic relations between the two countries, the Commerce Ministry said in a release Friday. The statement follows bilateral talks between officials of the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Commerce Ministry here earlier in the day.
A delegation led by Assistant USTR (AUSTR) Christopher Wilson visited India on July 11-12 to “explore potential for enhanced bilateral trade and economic engagement with India under the new government,” stated the release. The US and India delegation, led by Department of Commerce Additional Secretary Sanjay Chadha, discussed “the broad contours of bilateral trade and commercial ties” between India and the US.
Wilson also “called on” Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan during this visit.
Need to ensure no one-sided terms
The talks have resumed on the heels of remarks by officials from the US side that their administration is “frustrated” with the lack of balance and reciprocity from India. India would have to make sure it engages in constructive discussions, but does not agree to one-sided terms despite the US’ wish to finalise a resolution quickly.
“Met the US Trade Representative team today to strengthen India-US trade ties. We deliberated on several issues to take our deep, historic and strong trade relationship to the next level,” Goyal tweeted following the meeting.
“The meeting was cordial and aimed at providing a new impetus to bilateral trade and commercial ties, in line with the mandate given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump during their meeting at Osaka, Japan on 28 June 2019,” stated the Ministry.
The latest talks have come on the heels of remarks by Trump earlier this week reiterating that India’s move to impose tariffs on products exported to the country from the US would not be tolerated. Trump, who had met Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan, tweeted Tuesday that India has “long had a field day putting tariffs on American products” and that this was “no longer acceptable!”
Talks between the two leaders in June had culminated in them instructing their trade teams to resume discussions and work towards addressing trade concerns.
Meanwhile, Deputy USTR Jeffrey D Gerrish said during a fireside chat at a summit held in Washington Friday that President Trump and USTR Robert Lighthizer are frustrated with the lack of balance and reciprocity from India when it comes to trade and tariffs, according to PTI. He had said that the new round of discussions between the two countries is not open ended and that the US wants things to move quickly, it added.
“I think, we are at a pivotal juncture here in our relationship and at a critical intersection between a frustrating last few years that we’ve had and a possible future relationship that at this point is not really defined and is still being tested,” Gerrish was quoted by PTI as saying. The discussions in New Delhi were reportedly expected to be focussed on various trade-related concerns that have been raised by each side, including tariffs imposed on products traded between the two countries. It was also reportedly expected to restart discussions on a potential trade package that would identify products on which duties can be reduced for more favourable market access.
Such negotiations were earlier disrupted after the US decided to notify its withdrawal of duty-free benefits accorded to India under the country’s Generalised System of Preferences Programme (GSP) early in June. India retaliated a few weeks later by increasing the tariffs on 28 products imported from the US, including high value products like almonds and fresh apples.
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