NEW DELHI: India and the United States are nearing the conclusion of a trade package which would provide enhanced market access to both the countries, India’s outgoing Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla said. He was addressing a group of Indian-American entrepreneurs at a farewell lunch on Friday. Shringla, however, did not mention any date for the much-anticipated trade deal. “We are close to concluding a trade package that would provide enhanced market access to both countries,” he said.
Shringla, who will take up his new assignment as next foreign secretary later this month, said the signing of the trade package would pave way for a bigger bilateral trade deal between the two countries.
Top commerce ministry officials said the trade package will involve a trade-off between US restoring GSP 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.
Officials said the sticking points on farm product import rules and tariff structures and India’s demands for relaxations in trade in generic drugs were being dealt with.
Last year, the US had withdrawn preferential tariff treatment to more than 2,000 kinds of products worth some $6 billion, complaining of unfair trade practices by India, including higher duties.
According to officials, the talks will be taken forward for a more comprehensive trade pact at a later stage. “We are hurrying up the deal as both sides are keen at putting this behind us,” said a senior commerce ministry official.
US President Donald Trump had first announced the trade deal when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York in September last year on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The aim was to boost economic ties between the two nations.