India’s economic growth and development could support significantly more American exports in the future, the Trump administration has said. “Although existing Indian trade and regulatory policies have inhibited an even more robust trade and investment relationship, India’s economic growth and development could support significantly more US exports in the future,” the US Trade Representative said in its trade policy agenda and annual report to Congress yesterday. Two-way US-India trade in goods and services in 1980 was only USD 4.8 billion and it grew to an estimated USD 114 billion in 2016, the USTR said, adding that an annual growth rate over this period was more than nine per cent.
It said India’s reform of its goods and services tax may help create a common internal market that significantly lowers transaction costs. Additionally, implementation of India’s National Intellectual Property Rights policy could protect US innovations, it said. “While these reforms are encouraging, there has also been a general trend of tariff increases in India, which reflects an active pursuit of import substitution policies,” USTR rued. The Trump administration continues to press India to make meaningful progress in relation to these ambitious goals, primarily through the US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF), it said.
In addition to these ongoing concerns, US stakeholders submitted petitions in late 2017 on restrictions on market access for dairy products and medical devices, seeking suspension of India’s benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, it said. “The most recent TPF, held on October 26, 2017, in Washington, DC, yielded limited progress on these and other areas of concern,” USTR said, adding that it will continue to press for progress across the full range of bilateral trade issues, including intellectual property rights and market access for agriculture, non-agriculture goods, and services.
“These efforts will include TPF intersessional meetings, which include participation by senior-level officials from key US departments and agencies, and the ministerial-level TPF at the end of 2018. This enhanced bilateral engagement will provide an opportunity to achieve meaningful results on a wide range of trade and investment issues,” the USTR said.
In the 2017 US-India Bilateral Trade Policy Forum, USTR raised concerns with India’s longstanding data localisation requirements, and expressed interest in working with the Indian government as it crafts a new data protection law to ensure that the law does not have negative impacts on digital trade. “USTR continues to work with the Indian government to encourage more robust bilateral digital trade,” the report said.