• Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Business

Current trade talks first step to a comprehensive bilateral trade pact: Ambassador Sandhu

Taranjit Singh Sandhu with president Trump.

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIA’s ambassador to the US said that concluding current negotiations on a limited trade deal would be a crucial step towards a comprehensive bilateral trade pact between the two nations.

“First step to realise trade partnership is to conclude ongoing trade negotiations,” said Taranjit Singh Sandhu during a virtual summit organised by an industry body on Thursday (20).

India and the US have been struggling for more than a year to conclude the limited trade deal, sparring over higher tariffs and New Delhi’s policies on e-commerce and data storage.

Sandhu said the two nations were engaged in talks to get greater access for agricultural products in each other’s markets. Washington has been pressing New Delhi to roll back higher tariffs on a slew of farm products such as almonds, walnuts and apples.

The bilateral trade between India and the US, which touched $150 billion last year, has dropped 25 per cent in the first half of this year, ambassador Sandhu said.

He pointed out that India’s bilateral trade has been growing at the rate of 10 per cent on a year-to-year basis, reaching $150 billion in 2019.

“Our bilateral trade has not been immune to Covid-19 as total trade between the two countries has reduced by nearly 25 per cent in the first half of 2020 as compared to 2019,” he added.

“The US is today India’s biggest trading partner, but the real potential of the trade relationship is yet to be reached.”

According to reports, India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on some steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic items under the generalised system of preferences (GSP), and greater market access for its products from sectors such as agriculture, automobile, automobile components and engineering.

The US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, apart from cut in import duties on some information and communication technology products.

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