Trade officials of India and the US on Friday carried out talks in New Delhi for the first time after the US withdrew duty-free benefits to Indian exporters and India imposed retaliatory tariffs on imports from the US.
Assistant United States Trade Representative (AUSTR) Christopher Wilson, who visited India on 11-12 July 2019 said in a statement that his main purpose was to “explore the potential for enhanced bilateral trade and economic engagement with India under the new government.”
Sanjay Chadha, the Additional Secretary of the Commerce Ministry led the discussion for the Indian side.
Chadda, in a statement post the meeting, said, “The meeting was cordial and aimed at providing a new impetus to bilateral trade and commercial ties, in line with the mandate given by Prime Minister Modi and President Trump during their meeting at Osaka, Japan on 28 June 2019."
Both sides discussed the broad contours of bilateral trade and commercial ties and agreed to continue their discussions for achieving mutually beneficial outcomes aimed at further growing the economic relationship and addressing mutual trade concerns. The AUSTR also called on the Commerce Secretary and Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal during the visit.
The meeting comes days after Trump had again warned India regarding the high tariff regime not being acceptable to the US.
“India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable!" Trump had tweeted on Tuesday.
After the meeting on Friday, at the Second Leadership Summit of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) in Washington, deputy USTR Jeffrey D Gerrish said that president Trump and USTR Robert Lighthizer are frustrated with lack of balance and reciprocity in the India-US trade relationship.
“I think, we are at a pivotal juncture here in our relationship and at a critical intersection between a frustrating last few years that we have had and a possible future relationship that at this point is not really defined and is still being tested."
India has imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds and apples, starting 5 June, a year after announcing them to counter the increase in steel and aluminum tariffs by the US and the withdrawal of duty-free benefits to Indian exporters. Following the move, the US raised the dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO). India also raised customs duties on a host of products, including alloy steel and auto parts, in the budget presented on 5 July.