Latest Round of U.S.-India Trade Talks Leaves Questions Unanswered

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Much hope was pinned on the latest round of trade talks between the United States and India.

In the end, however, the talks that concluded late last week were inconclusive.

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The Indian government said the countries agreed to continue their discussions for “addressing mutual trade concerns,” Reuters reported.

This round of meetings was supposed to chart the course ahead on trade between the two countries, particularly in the wake of the exchange of tariffs and counter-tariffs.

Yet, many of the questions on agricultural commodities, e-commerce, and steel and aluminum have been put off, according to the report.

Talks will now resume when India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal goes to Washington next month for talks with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Reuters reported.

“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 Narendra Modi and the US President Donald Trump during their meeting at Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019,” Goyal said, according to The Asian Age. “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 U.S. delegation, led by Assistant United States Trade Representative (AUSTR) Christopher Wilson, aimed to explore potential for enhanced bilateral trade and economic engagement with India under the new government, The Asian Age reported. The Indian delegation was led by Sanjay Chadha, additional secretary in India’s ministry of commerce and industry, and also included senior officials from other Indian government ministries.

After delaying the imposition of tariffs on U.S. goods, the Indian government recently opted to levy tariffs on 28 U.S. goods in response to the U.S.’s decision to rescind India’s preferential status under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). President Donald Trump announced his intention to remove India’s preferential status in March.

The GSP affords duty-free tariff treatment “to certain U.S. imports from eligible developing countries to support their economic development.” According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), U.S. imports from India covered by GSP accounted for 11% of U.S. imports from India, checking in at a value of $6.3 billion.

The U.S. was India’s second-largest export market — behind only the E.U. — in 2017, according to the CRS.

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The U.S. goods targeted for tariffs by India included almonds, apples, chemicals, flat-rolled stainless steel products, other alloy steel, tube, pipe fittings, screws, bolts and rivets.

In a July 9 tweet, Trump said “India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products,” adding the situation was “no longer acceptable.”

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