Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Tuesday said that India and the United States had “narrowed the areas of difference” during negotiations for a trade deal, PTI reported. He said both sides would continue discussions and “some kind of a trade agreement” would be reached in the near future.
Last week, Reuters had reported that the two countries were racing to negotiate a limited trade deal that President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi could sign in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly session this week. Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has been in the city to negotiate with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Speaking after a bilateral meeting between Modi and Trump, Gokhale rejected claims that the trade talks had got derailed and said it was a wrong interpretation, PTI reported. “These are issues which are complex,” he said. “These issues involved industries of both the sides. It involves jobs on both sides.”
Before their meeting, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi also addressed the media. Trump said the two countries would have a trade deal “very soon”. “We are doing very well...Bob Lighthizer, who’s right here, was negotiating with India and their very capable representatives. We’ll have the larger deal down the road a little bit, but we will have a trade deal very soon.”
However, no timeline was given by either side.
Modi hailed the agreement signed between Indian company Petronet and US firm Tellurian on Sunday. Petronet, India’s largest liquified natural gas importer, will invest $2.5 billion for around 20% equity stake in United States energy company Tellurian Inc’s Driftwood project. They will negotiate buying five million tonnes of gas per year. “…This will result in trade of an amount of $60 billion and create 50,000 jobs which I think is a big initiative taken by India,” said Modi.
Foreign Secretary Gokhale said he was optimistic that the two countries would reach an agreement “fairly soon”. “We have made significant progress in that regard, and we are quite confident that we will make further progress in the future,” he added.
Gokhale said India was expecting the deal to be “fair and reasonable” and “we have laid out our requirements in that regard, so is the US side”.
India wants exemption from high duties on its steel and aluminium products, resumption of preferential trade treatment under the Generalised System of Preferences and greater market access.
The US government had terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary of the GSP programme in June, claiming it had not assured the US that it would “provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets”. India was the largest beneficiary of the programme in 2017, which allowed for $5.6 billion, around Rs 3,896 crore, worth of Indian exports to enter the country duty-free.
The US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices. It has also raised concerns over high trade deficit with India.
Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.