India, US pledge to boost bilateral trade

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Published: May 7, 2019 4:58:25 AM

A source told FE that contentious issues – including India’s concern about the extra tariff levied on steel and aluminium supplies and tightening of the US visa regime and the American demand for the removal of control on stent prices and duties on ICT products by New Delhi, apart from easier FDI rules for e-commerce and greater market access – didn’t feature in discussion.

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India and the US on Monday reiterated commitment to further boost bilateral trade and investments, as US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross met commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu here. However, a source told FE that contentious issues – including India’s concern about the extra tariff levied on steel and aluminium supplies and tightening of the US visa regime and the American demand for the removal of control on stent prices and duties on ICT products by New Delhi, apart from easier FDI rules for e-commerce and greater market access – didn’t feature in discussion. But one of the sources said such meetings are not the right platform for the two sides to rake up critical issues; instead these are usually discussed in the trade policy forum meetings, attended by the US Trade Representative’s office.

Earlier in the day, after his meeting with finance minister Arun Jaitley, Ross said: “Premature to talk about FDI in e-commerce; will discuss the issue with Suresh Prabhu later.” The issue assumes significance amid apprehensions that the draft e-commerce policy favours domestic players and does not provide level-playing field for foreign investors, such as Amazon and Walmart.

Ross is here to attend the 11th Trade Winds Business Forum and Mission hosted by the US Department of Commerce. Representatives of over 100 American companies are visiting India as part of this programme, which started on Monday. “Both sides expressed satisfaction over the progress during the year 2018, with bilateral trade in Goods and Services registering a growth of 12.6% from $ 126 billion in 2017 to $142 billion in 2018,” the commerce ministry said.

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