NEW DELHI: Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said the broad contours of a trade deal with the US have been worked out, adding the gap has been reduced for making an announcement on the deal.
Goyal also hinted that the two countries may look at the larger engagement, which trade analysts see as working towards a bilateral free trade pact between the two nations.
“We have almost resolved the broad contours of what we are going to announce. I do not see any great difficulty in closing the gap on the first announcement,” he said at a business conference, adding that he was hoping to meet United States trade representative Robert Lighthizer soon.
The minister said an announcement could have been made earlier but as both sides were busy with other trade issues including the US talks with Japan and China, the process had been delayed. Officials said the initial deal will involve a trade-off between US restoring Generalised System of Preferences benefits for Indian exports and India opening up to imports from the US including medical devices and agricultural goods as well as reduction of tariff on high-value information technology imports. “Both I and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer have understood that we have huge potential, which we still need to tap...We will hopefully come out with a first set of agreements soon,” he said.
“But we both believe that India and the US should look at a much larger engagement in the days ahead, possibly even leading to an announcement for a bilateral agreement, which will go beyond near tinkering that we are doing at present,” Goyal added.
US had earlier this year withdrawn preferential tariff treatment to more than 2,000 kinds of products worth some $ 6 billion that India was exporting to the US, complaining of unfair trade practices by India including higher duties by India among other issues. India had in a tit-for-tat move also raised duties on some US products.