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India set to engage with new USTR on pending trade pact

Live Mint | 9 February 2021

India set to engage with new USTR on pending trade pact

by Asit Ranjan Mishra

India will engage with new US Trade Representative Katherine Tai once the Congress approves her nomination and seek her views on the pending mini trade deal, trade minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday. This will further the trade relationship between the two countries, he said.

“The US just had a change in administration and we are waiting for the new USTR to be confirmed. Once the new USTR is in office we will start a dialogue with them to look at how we can expand our business and international engagement, both through market access, tariffs and other ways of expanding trade relationship," said Goyal.

“We have to wait for the new USTR to come in and we have to hear from the new administration about what is on their mind (about the pending trade deal negotiated with the Donald Trump administration). We have thoughts about it. It is only after engaging with the new administration that we can comment on that," he said.

Both sides made their first high-level engagement on Monday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with US President Joe Biden on several issues ranging from rebuilding the global economy in the post-covid world and terrorism, to renewing the partnership on climate change, closer cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, and developing a stronger regional architecture through the Quad grouping. However, there was no mention of trade engagements in readouts provided.

The mini-trade deal was expected to cover tariff concessions for US farm produce, especially dairy products, pricing of pharma products such as stents and knee implants, and information, besides communication technology products. In return, Washington was expected to restore benefits accorded to Indian exporters under the Generalised System of Preferences. Both sides were also supposed to remove the tit-for-tat measures after the US raised steel and aluminium tariffs.

The Biden administration has signalled that free trade agreements is not its immediate priority. In an interview with The New York Times in December, Biden had said: “I am not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers."

 source: Live Mint