Indo-US trade talks to resume next week

Economy


NEW DELHI: India and the US will resume their bilateral trade talks, with senior officials of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) visiting New Delhi next week.

Assistant USTR Chris Wilson and deputy assistant USTR Brendan Lynch will be in New Delhi for trade talks, the first after India increased tariffs on 28 American goods following the US putting an end to preferential benefits to Indian exports last month.

“Things are moving after the G20 summit. USTR officials will come to India for talks in the next few days,” an official in the know of the development told ET.

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The revival of the talks comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump, at the Osaka G20 Summit, agreed for an early meeting of their commerce ministers to sort out the trade issues. The agenda of the official level meeting is still being firmed up. “There are many issues … the agenda is not final yet,” the official said.

India has said that it took some action after the US revoked the Generalized System of Preferences and that the two sides should see how the issues could be resolved going forward.

Trump has said India and the US would have a “very big trade deal” to announce, something that New Delhi was bracing criticised India’s high import tariff on the Harley-Davidson motorcycles as “unacceptable” and his administration wants India to lower the trade barriers and embrace “fair and reciprocal” trade.

Washington has also sought access to India’s dairy and medical-devices market. India’s exports to the US amounted to $52.4 billion in FY19, while imports were worth $35.5 billion.

Trade

IPR, E-COMMERCE CRITICAL

India anticipated pressure from Washington to sign some kind of a trade pact besides extracting concessions on intellectual property rights and ecommerce.

The US, through its Special 301 report, has tried to push India to drop Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patents Act that denies patents on items that are not significantly different from their older versions. It tented drugs to address situations of national emergency, as permitted by the global trade rules.

On the digital trade front, Washington has flagged its concerns on India’s draft ecommerce policy on data localisation requirements, restrictions on cross-border data flows, transfer of intellectual property and proprietary source code, and preferential treatment for domestic digital products.

Besides, Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart have been impacted by India’s prohibition of ecommerce companies with foreign direct investment from selling products via firms in which they have an equity interest, and making deals with sellers to sell exclusively on their platforms.

“There is a threat of a trade agreement but we should be clear on our red lines. RBI’s data localisation norms, proposed ecommerce policy and tariffs on agricultural products are the non-negotiables,” said a Delhi-based trade expert. As per another expert, this is the US’ posturing before its elections next year and it can’t promise India easier visa rules.



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