Updated January 13th, 2024 at 16:08 IST
India-US trade: USTR Katherine Tai highlights progress and challenges
India has submitted relevant data on its social security schemes, a requirement from the US to initiate negotiations on the agreement.
US-India trade: The US Trade Representative (USTR), Katherine Tai, announced on Saturday that the US has received information from India regarding the proposed social security agreement, marking a positive step in bilateral discussions. Tai noted that while the information has been received, there is still substantial work to be done on the matter.
The social security totalisation agreement is a crucial aspect of India's requests during the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting. This agreement has the potential to significantly enhance services trade between the two nations and provide benefits to Indian IT professionals working temporarily in the US.
India has submitted relevant data on its social security schemes, a requirement from the US to initiate negotiations on the agreement. Tai confirmed that the ball is now in the US court, but emphasised that there is much more work ahead to facilitate discussions on India's proposal.
The USTR was present at the 14th TPF meeting, which she co-chaired with India's Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. The social security agreement aims to exempt expatriates in either country from contributing to the host country's social security scheme, particularly benefiting Indian IT professionals in the US.
In response to US concerns about India's import management system for specified IT hardware, Tai revealed that they have requested India to hold consultations with them and other stakeholders on the matter. Goyal, during the TPF meeting, outlined India's objectives, including addressing national security concerns in this regard.
Tai emphasised the importance of consultations to avoid disruptions to the regulatory environment, ensuring that decisions made in this area accommodate the concerns of all stakeholders.
Discussing increased cooperation in the critical minerals sector, Tai highlighted the significance of these minerals for a sustainable and resilient economic and industrial future for both nations. The joint statement issued after the TPF meeting expressed the commitment of the two ministers to launch joint initiatives, focusing on critical minerals and trade in high-tech products.
On agricultural issues, Tai mentioned that the US is seeking greater market access for products like almonds, walnuts, blueberries, and cranberries. Meanwhile, India has raised concerns about the US market for grapes, mangoes, and pomegranates.
Addressing India's concerns over visa processing delays for Indian businesses, Tai mentioned that the USTR office is facilitating conversations on this subject with relevant parts of the US administration. Goyal had highlighted challenges faced by Indian business visitors due to prolonged visa processing times during the TPF meeting and urged the United States to expedite the processing.
(With PTI inputs.)
Published January 13th, 2024 at 16:08 IST