Trade tensions between India and the US have been rising with President Donald Trump complaining on Twitter that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were “no longer acceptable”.
“Our two countries have made such accelerated progress. In the last 10 years, we have come far beyond what either of the countries would have imagined and as a result we are bound to have issues that would arise when two countries, two partners or even two individuals take that cooperation forward to that extent,” Shringla told PTI in an interview here.
Shringla was on a brief, yet action-packed, visit to New York, meeting NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and several CEOs based in New York during his trip.
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 has implemented a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on US commerce. Despite intensive engagement, India has failed to take the necessary steps to meet the GSP criterion,” the USTR said.
India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products including almonds and apples from June 5, after the Trump Administration revoked its preferential trade privileges.
Trump, a day before his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G-20 Summit in Osaka (Japan), tweeted that he looks forward to speaking with the Indian leader “about the fact that India, for years having put very high Tariffs against the US, just recently increased the Tariffs even further. This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!”
Shringla said he believes the US and India value the relationship, which he underscored as “very important” one.
“We will find ways to deal with what I call some of these issues as minor speed bumps. We do understand that there is a certain level of expectation that these would be addressed as early as possible,” he said.
The Indian envoy added that these issues were discussed between Modi and Trump in Osaka and both sides agreed that the Indian Commerce Minister and the USTR would meet at the earliest to discuss the trade issues.
“We would prefer that the engagement is at a political level so that we can take the decisions necessary to address the issues that are on the table. And certainly it is in our mutual interest to have a smooth trading relationship,” he said in response to a question on the increasing trade tensions between the US and India.
Highlighting that the US was India’s largest trading partner and New Delhi being the 9th largest trading partner of Washington, he said, “We have significant investments in each other’s countries. Not only has the US invested about USD 50 billion in India, India has also invested heavily in the US.”
He said that Indian hi-tech companies have created value in the US of over USD 50 billion and created 175,000 jobs in the US.
“So it is a two-way relationship that can only move forward. If it moves forward, it is to a mutual benefit,” he said.
Emphasising that the US was a major partner of India when it comes to economic development, Shringla said, “What we are looking at is investments, technology, generation of employment through support for the Make in India programme”.
The strategic cooperation with the US encompasses the Indo-Pacific and the two nations have good exchanges on that front, he said, adding that New Delhi and Washington has a “very healthy defense partnership” that includes joint exercises and for the first time there will be trilateral exercises involving the Army, Navy and Air Force of both countries working comprehensively and cooperatively.
“In that exercise we will be looking at humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. This is an area that both countries have a fair amount of expertise and we can look at how we can cooperate together in helping other countries in dealing with natural disasters and other emergencies,” Shringla said.
He also said that India has sourced some of its defense equipment and technology from the US and that process will continue.
Giving details of his engagements during his visit to New York, Shringla said Kumar provided a “very valuable insight” into how he sees the next five years in terms of the government’s vision and how to fulfil the vision of Indian Prime Minister of making India a five trillion dollar economy.
“Since the US is a major partner in the socio-economic transformation of India, through flagships initiatives and programmes of the government, how we can involve the US and US businesses in that effort is the key to success of a lot of what we do in this regard,” he added.
Shringla said the New Jersey Governor intends to undertake a comprehensive visit to India with a business delegation later this year.
“New Jersey is looking to attract investments from India. It is also looking to see how India can be a platform for businesses in New Jersey,” Shringla said.