India to raise visa issue in trade policy meet

Talking trade: Ahead of the meeting, a U.S. delegation will visit New Delhi in September.

Talking trade: Ahead of the meeting, a U.S. delegation will visit New Delhi in September.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStock

Meeting to take place in October

The Centre will, during the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting likely in October, raise Indian industry’s concerns over the U.S. visa ‘curbs’ and the ‘delay’ in inking a bilateral social security pact (or totalisation agreement).

In the TPF meeting, the premier forum to resolve bilateral trade and investment issues, the U.S. is expected to table its worries over India’s ‘restrictions’ on e-commerce as well as the ‘challenges’ faced by American innovative industries due to India’s ‘weak’ Intellectual Property Rights regime.

In addition, New Delhi would take up the ‘non-tariff barriers’ by the U.S. that are hurting Indian agriculture, pharmaceuticals and other industrial exports, while Washington is likely to raise its concerns over India’s ‘excessively high tariffs’ on imports of many manufactured products as well as the $24.3 billion goods trade deficit that the U.S. had with India in 2016.

Discussions next month

Ahead of the TPF meeting that will be held in Washington DC, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for South and Central Asia, Mark Linscott, will lead a U.S. official delegation to New Delhi in September for discussions on the TPF agenda and on framing the contours of the proposed ‘comprehensive review’ of bilateral trade relations, official sources told The Hindu.

Prior to that, Mr. Linscott, Tanya Menchi, Deputy Assistant USTR for South and Central Asia, and Brendan Lynch, Director for India at the USTR Office, will participate in a round-table discussion on August 23 being organised by the advocacy body U.S.-India Business Council to take inputs for the TPF meeting and the comprehensive review of bilateral trade ties.

There were doubts about the future of the TPF, especially following a U.S. government statement on August 15 mentioning that U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decided to ‘establish a new 2-by-2 ministerial dialogue that will elevate their strategic consultations.’ However, official sources said this meant that the ‘commercial’ track will be taken out of the India-US ‘Strategic and Commercial Dialogue’ (S&CD), and from now on take place independently. They said the TPF will be held as usual in October, as happens every year.

They said informal discussions have started on firming up the contours of the comprehensive review of bilateral trade relations – originally proposed in the joint statement after the Modi-Trump meeting on June 26 in Washington DC. As per that statement, in order to pursue increased commercial engagement in a manner that advances the principles of free and fair trade, the US and India plan to undertake a comprehensive review of trade relations with the goal of expediting regulatory processes; ensuring that technology and innovation are appropriately fostered, valued, and protected; and increasing market access in areas such as agriculture, information technology, and manufactured goods and services.” Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi also “committed to strengthening cooperation to address excess capacity in industrial sectors.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 12:42:45 AM |

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