USTR, Indian officials discuss trade issues

NEW DELHI:

Senior officials of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Monday discussed trade issues with the Department of Commerce. The officials are visiting India in an attempt to iron out the bilateral trade matters as part of a ‘trade package’ of mutual concerns. “These are bilateral talks that happen every month,” said an official aware of the development. The meeting comes a week after India extended the deadline for the second time for imposing higher customs duties on 29 products imported from the US, including almond, walnut and pulses. The tariffs will now come into force on November 2. The visit also assumes significance in the wake of India hosting the Trade Policy Forumand the IndiaUS Commercial Dialogue later this year.

USTR for south and central Asian affairs Mark Linscott and deputy USTR Jeffrey D Gerrish were expected to visit India to resolve the concerns. Besides the penal duties imposed by the US on Indian steel and aluminium on the ground of security concerns, continuation of preferential benefits to Indian exports under US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) are high up on the agenda. On the US’ concerns over its trade deficit with India, New Delhi has said it can’t commit to the amount by which it can reduce this gap. India has maintained that retaliatory tariffs and other bilateral issues are two parallel tracks and should not be linked.