While they could not meet the Tuesday deadline to announce a limited trade package, India and the U.S. continue to discuss a limited trade agreement, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells, told reporters in New York on Friday.
Ms. Wells said “concrete progress” on a trade deal had been made and that “talks that are being held are constructive” and focused on arriving at a specific package that will remove some of the irritants in the bilateral trade relationship .
“Trade always involves challenges” Ms. Wells said. “But it’s against a backdrop of rapidly increasing U.S.-India trade where bilateral trade is up to a $142 billion.”
Ms. Wells also said U.S. exports to India had increased 28% last year. It is now “increasingly a two-way street when it comes to trade and investment.”
India and the U.S. had hoped to announce a limited trade package during the Modi-Trump bilateral on Tuesday. That they missed the deadline meant some incentive to wrap up a deal was lost. However, the two sides are seeing if they can still come up with something more modest than was initially anticipated.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, who was in New York until Friday, had a phone call on Thursday with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who had returned to Washington DC, The Hindu had learned. The two agreed to speak again by phone next week, after Mr. Goyal returns to New Delhi.
The trade teams are wrangling over price caps on medical devices – this is a particularly challenging area. Also under negotiation is some form of immunity for India from future trade action, if a deal is signed, The Hindu has learned from sources familiar with the discussions. The U.S. considers this a big ask from India.
Regarding ICT (Information and Communication Technology) products, it is unclear whether this sector is currently under negotiation.
“India and the USA talking of a potential trade deal in the near future in itself is a big step,” Ridhika Batra , Director, FICCI USA said.