The United States on Monday eased export rules for high-technology product sales to India in line with the status it accords mainly to its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The US administration has granted Strategic Trade Authorization Tier 1 status to India.

“STA1 provides India greater supply chain efficiency, both for defence, and for other high-tech products,” said US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a US Chamber of Commerce event, according to Reuters. He said the goods worth $9.7 billion (more than Rs 66,000 crore) that India could have imported from the US over the last seven years were affected as a result of the lack of the elevated status.

The move to grant a higher trade status to India reflects US’ efforts to improve export-control regime and identified India’s growing status as a US defence partner, Ross added.

The Ministry of External Affairs said it welcomed the US decision. “It is a logical culmination to India’s designation as a Major Defense Partner of US and a reaffirmation of India’s impeccable record as a responsible member of the concerned multilateral export control regimes,” the ministry said in a statement, according to ANI. “This step will further facilitate India-US trade and technology collaboration in defence and high technology areas. We look forward to the US side operationalising the decision at an early date.”

The moves comes ahead of high-level talks between the US and India on September 6. Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will discuss strengthening strategic, security, and defence cooperation with India’s Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman.

Besides its NATO allies, the US has granted Strategic Trade Authorisation status to Australia, Japan and South Korea. It will help India get easy access to latest defence technologies as its reduces the number of licences needed for US exports to India.