India and the US are making a “very good progress” on a trade package and were looking to engage in a long term framework for preferential or free market access to goods from each other’s countries, India’s outgoing envoy here has said.
The Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who would take up his new assignment as India’s next foreign secretary later this month, said that there are a lot of complementarities in trade between India and the US.
In September, the two nations failed to announce a limited trade deal in New York during the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, due to still prevailing differences over the package, including access Washington sought to Indian markets for medical devices, such as stents and knee implants, information and communications technology (ICT) products and dairy products with the removal of price caps.
India is keen on a fair and reasonable trade deal in which its request for market access is secured while also addressing the trade deficit issue raised by the US.
“We are happy that we are making very good progress on our trade package between our two sides. But, what we are really looking at is to engage in a long term framework under which our two countries can provide preferential or free market access to goods from each other’s countries,” Shringla said.
Noting that there are a lot of complementarities in trade between the two countries, Shringla said they can open up windows that are exclusively for “our companies and thereby take our trade” figure from the current USD160 billion to double it, if the conditions are correct.
“It’s a strategic partnership that we look to not for the next four to five years of an election cycle, but a long term relationship in which we must see a mutuality of benefits between the two countries, that have the same values, same shared principles and the same way of looking at how we’d like to see the rest of the world evolve,” he said.
Shringla has served as India’s envoy to the US for about one year.
“In that one important aspect is the fact that we must look at ways to provide a policy framework and facilitation that could secure, a partnership and relationship on the economic side that is a sustainable in the long term,” Shringla said at farewell in his honour by US Chambers of Commerce, and US India Business Council.
In her remarks, USIBC president, Nisha Desai Biswal, said that Shringla in a very short period of time became “a very important fixture” here in Washington DC, in the corridors of power in the policy conversations around the city and also across the country.
She said she has been struck with the tenacity and the enthusiasm with which Shringla approached his very broad and expansive mandate here in the United States in this role.
“I also want to acknowledge the fact that you have been, open, direct and ready to engage across the broad spectrum of constituencies of relationships that you manage. While your main counterparts have been in the administration, I have to say you’ve been equally active with governors and mayors, with members of the Congress, with business executives and with community leaders,” she said.
In about a year, Shringla visited 21 US states.
Ralph Voltmer, partner Covington and Burling and a USIBC Global Board of Directors said that Shringla has written extensively on conflict prevention and how to promote peace and prosperity among nations.
“Mr. Ambassador, your reflections on supporting an area of diplomacy are all the more relevant today as we sit here in Washington and see the potential for increased conflict,” he said.
“I know your wise guidance and steady hand as Foreign Secretary will benefit our countries and our peoples as we navigate international diplomatic challenges in the years ahead,” Voltmer said.
In March, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that the US will terminate India’s designation as beneficiary developing country under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.
India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products including almonds and apples from June 5, after the Trump administration revoked its preferential trade privileges.
Trade tensions between India and the US have been rising with President Trump complaining that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were “no longer acceptable”.