Piyush Goyal may meet USTR in Washington following American trade officials’ ongoing visit


NEW DELHI: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal may visit Washington to meet United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to resume bilateral trade talks after the leaders of the two countries met at the G20 Osaka Summit last month and agreed on a meeting between their commerce ministers.

“Though it is not decided who will go where but prima facie it seems that the commerce and industry minister will go to Washington,” said one official in the know of the details.

This comes as American trade officials are visiting New Delhi for relationship-building with Indian government counterparts, including introductory meetings for the new assistant USTR for India. Assistant Christopher Wilson and deputy assistant Brendan Lynch are in New Delhi July 11-12.


“Since India’s election period has now passed, USTR officials are visiting India for relationship-building,” a USTR spokesperson said.

The official said that members of the delegation met their counterparts on Thursday.

Another official in the know of the details said that Wilson is leading a delegation to New Delhi to discuss bilateral and economic issues with his counterparts in line ministries and departments of government of India.??Both sides will hold an official-level comprehensive dialogue on Friday and the visiting USTR delegation will also call on Goyal on the same day.

“Relevant issues for both countries on trade and commerce will be discussed during the meeting,” the official added.

Sources in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said that informal meetings are taking place on Thursday and formal talks will take place on Friday.

“Now there are quite a few issues on the table which you are aware. Our approach is to engage with them very constructively, in a very positive manner,” the MEA source said.

Following Osaka

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.

As per the MEA source, the two leaders had “a very good meeting” in Osaka where trade was also discussed.

“I think it is important to keep in mind when we engage on this issue that the trajectory of the relationship remains positive, we have to keep in mind the bigger picture and within that big picture try to address all the issues which are on the table,” the source added.

On Tuesday, Trump again warned India if its “unacceptable” high tariff regime.

“India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable!” Trump tweeted then.

Besides meeting officials from MEA and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the delegation is also meeting officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, among others.??

This is the first meeting of the two sides after the US dragged India to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for raising tariffs on 28 American goods following the US putting an end to preferential benefits to Indian exports last month.

Talks were suspended when Washington terminated the Generalised Scheme of Preferences to $6.35 billion Indian exports.??India’s exports to the US amounted to $52.4 billion in FY19, while imports were worth $35.5 billion.

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