Indian Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Monday discussed “various outstanding trade issues” and agreed to explore “suitable resolutions”, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
“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 countries,” stated the ministry in a release following the meeting.
“Both sides agreed to deepen economic cooperation and bilateral trade by ensuring greater cooperation amongst stakeholders, including Government, businesses and entrepreneurs,” it added. The bilateral meet has taken place ahead of the US Trade Winds Business Forum and Mission initiative, which will take place in Delhi until May 10, 2019.
While the ministry did not elaborate on which outstanding trade issues were discussed specifically, the US Commerce Secretary earlier on Monday reportedly said that he would be taking up issues related to Foreign Direct Investment in India’s new e-commerce policy draft.
The draft has been one of several points of contention between the two countries, with the US terming aspects of the policy as “most discriminatory and trade-distortive”.
India’s e-commerce rules have reportedly hit local operations of US e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart.
Apart from this issue, the US has been at loggerheads with India over price caps on high-priced life saving and essential medical devices like stents and knee implants in 2017. India, on the other hand, has been considering its next step after the US in March decided to “terminate” its status as a beneficiary of the Generalised System of Preferences programme for failing to provide assurances that the US would get “equitable and reasonable” access to Indian markets in numerous sectors.
Under the programme, certain products can enter the US duty-free if beneficiary developing countries meet the eligibility criteria established by the US Congress. The US’ 60-day notice to India expired on May 3 and exports worth $5.6 billion from India, including raw materials, articles of iron or steel, aluminum, furniture, electrical machinery and intermediaries across sectors such as organic chemicals and engineering goods are expected to be impacted.
India has also been mulling retaliatory tariffs on 29 products like almonds and apples since 2018 after the US raised import duties on steel and aluminum exported from the country. However, the finance ministry here deferred its decision to impose these retaliatory tariffs once again on May 3.
The extension came in the backdrop of the United Nations Security Council’s designation of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a global terrorist after three countries, including the US, pressured China to lift its hold on a proposal to do so. India had been pushing for the international listing of Azhar following the Pulwama attacks earlier this year. —WITH PTI