U.S. and Indian officials met recently in Washington to discuss a range of bilateral trade issues but saw little progress, according to information provided by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Commerce.
USTR Robert Lighthizer said the U.S. is looking to increase trade with India, which “has grown significantly in the last few years,” and decrease its $29.6 billion trade deficit with that country. Toward that end, the U.S. “pressed for strong outcomes” on a number of issues at a meeting of the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum, including non-science-based barriers to agricultural trade, continuing and new regulatory and technical barriers to trade that impact sales of U.S. high technology and other products, tariffs in a number of agricultural and industrial sectors, market access in services, and protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Lighthizer said the two sides “had differing views that could not be resolved immediately” in many of these areas but agreed on the importance of continuing their “strong engagement” in an effort to achieve concrete outcomes before the next TPF in 2018.
Separately, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu met to launch their first session of the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue. A DOC press release states that while noting the three-fold increase in total U.S.-India trade since 2005 the two officials also “shared candid feedback” on ways to expand trade and investment opportunities. For example, Ross highlighted the need for India to lower its tariff and non-tariff barriers, commit to use international standards, and make greater efforts to simplify tax and bankruptcy procedures for industry. The two sides vowed to pursue “meaningful progress” on standards, business climate and investment, and travel and tourism in the coming year.