India, USTR to resolve outstanding trade issues

Economy


India and the US on Thursday agreed to work “constructively” to resolve outstanding trade issues and take a “comprehensive” look at ways to expand the relationship, the United States Trade Representative said.

In their first interaction after President Joe Biden took office, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal had a virtual meeting with his counterpart USTR Katherine Tai wherein they committed to “revitalize engagement through the US-India Trade Policy Forum”.

As per the statement, the two sides discussed the important trade and investment relationship between India and the US.

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“They also agreed to work constructively to resolve key outstanding bilateral trade issues and to take a comprehensive look at ways to expand the trade relationship,” USTR said, adding that they agreed to hold the next ministerial-level meeting of the Trade Policy Forum in 2021.

Tai stressed the critical importance of cooperation on a broad set of issues, including digital trade, intellectual property, agriculture, labour, and climate and the environment.

Last month, Goyal called for a fresh trade package with the US saying the old one is now “off the table”. He also said the two sides will work on a greater engagement as the “last time when we were discussing, we were nitpicking very small issues and changing the goal post in every subsequent conversation”.

Bilateral trade in goods shrank 21% to $79 billion in 2020 from the 2019 level with US’ goods exports witnessing a 21% decline while imports of goods from India fell 11% from the 2019 level, the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) said.

“As a result, the goods trade deficit with India increased 3% to almost $24 billion in 2020 from the previous year’s $23 billion,” the Forum said in a report.

India was the 12th largest goods market for American exports last year and Washington’s energy exports to India accounted for more than 25% of total merchandise US exports to India.

It said bilateral trade in services was severely affected due to the pandemic-driven lockdowns, dropping 24% in 2020 and US’ services trade deficit with India more than doubled in 2020 to $8 billion.



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